Long summer days make for short summer nights – an increasing number of people are sleep deprived and show it.
Adults in the UK who have poor sleep patterns are more likely to be overweight and obese and have poorer metabolic health, according to a new study.
The findings showed that people who were sleeping on average around six hours a night had a waist measurement that was 3cm greater than individuals who were getting nine hours of sleep a night. And shorter sleepers were heavier too.
The results strengthen the evidence that insufficient sleep could contribute to the development of metabolic diseases such as diabetes — major health challenges facing the NHS.
The study — led by Dr Laura Hardie, Reader in Molecular Epidemiology at the University of Leeds — not only looked at the links between sleep duration, diet and weight, but also other indicators of overall metabolic health such as blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood sugar, and thyroid function.
The study involved 1,615 adults who reported how long they slept and kept records of food intake. Participants had blood samples taken and their weight, waist circumference, and blood pressure recorded.
The researchers looked at the associations between how long people were sleeping and these key biological parameters.
The research team, from the Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine and the School of Food Science and Nutrition, reported their findings in the journal PLOS One.
Obesity has doubled
Greg Potter, one of the Leeds researchers, said “The number of people with obesity worldwide has more than doubled since 1980.
“Obesity contributes to the development of many diseases, most notably type 2 diabetes. Understanding why people gain weight has crucial implications for public health.”
Shorter sleep was also linked to reduced levels of HDL cholesterol in the participants’ blood-another factor that can cause health problems. HDL cholesterol is ‘good’ cholesterol that helps remove ‘bad’ fat from the circulation. In doing so, high HDL cholesterol levels protect against conditions such as heart disease.
Interestingly, the study did not find any relationship between shortened sleep and a less healthy diet — a fact that surprised the researchers. Other studies have suggested that shortened sleep can lead to poor dietary choices.
The research was a snapshot of the associations between sleep duration and measurements of metabolic health. It was not designed to assess the impact of chronic poor sleep over time, and whether that leads to disease.
Importance of getting enough sleep
Dr Hardie said: “Because we found that adults who reported sleeping less than their peers were more likely to be overweight or obese, our findings highlight the importance of getting enough sleep.
“How much sleep we need differs between people, but the current consensus is that seven to nine hours is best for most adults.”
Enter Shaklee Gentle Sleep Complex
Gentle Sleep Complex combines a unique Shaklee combination of passion flower, German chamomile, and valerian.
Valerian has been used safely and traditionally to promote restful sleep.
Active constituents: Valerian root contains many different constituents, including valeric acid and volatile oils that appear to contribute to the sedating properties of the herb. Central nervous system sedation is regulated by receptors in the brain known as GABA-A receptors. According to test tube studies, valerian may weakly bind to these receptors to exert a sedating action. This might explain why valerian may help some people deal with stress more effectively.
Double-blind trials have found that valerian is an effective treatment for people with mild to moderately severe insomnia.3 4 Generally, valerian makes sleep more restful as well as making the transition to sleep easier, but does not tend to increase total time slept, according to these studies.
Chamomile has a long history of health benefits
Chamomile is one of the most ancient medicinal herbs known to mankind. It is a member of Asteraceae/Compositae family and represented by two common varieties viz. German Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) and Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile). The dried flowers of chamomile contain many terpenoids and flavonoids contributing to its medicinal properties. Chamomile preparations are commonly used for many human ailments particularly insomnia but others such as hay fever, inflammation, muscle spasms, menstrual disorders, ulcers, wounds, gastrointestinal disorders, rheumatic pain, and hemorrhoids. Essential oils of chamomile are used extensively in cosmetics and aromatherapy.
Passion Flower is effective as a mild sedative
For many years, plant researchers believed that a group of harman alkaloids were the active constituents in passion flower. Recent studies, however, have pointed to the flavonoids in passion flower as the primary constituents responsible for its relaxing and anti-anxiety effects. European herbal pharmacopoeias typically recommend passion flower products containing no less than 0.8% total flavonoids. The European literature involving passion flower recommends it primarily for the treatment of mild to moderate anxiety. In this context, it is often combined with valerian and other herbs with sedative properties.The effectiveness of passion flower as a treatment for anxiety has been confirmed in a double-blind study. In that study, 45 drops per day of an extract of passion flower taken for four weeks was as effective as 30 mg per day of oxazepam (Serax®), a medication used for anxiety. Some studies show that drug induced sleep does not do what natural sleep can do for metabolism.Shaklee Gentle Sleep Complex is recommended to my patients for helping get restful sleep, reducing jet lag, offsetting the effects of stress. Seven to 9 hours of restful sleep is still scientifically valid for maintaining optimum human health. I often use it when traveling more than 2 time zones from home. It can be used by both adults and children but pregnant women should consult their physician because the combination of herbs can cause mild muscle contractions.