A sleep scientist highly recommends people to sleep at least seven hours every night, as he has linked several major health problems to sleep deprivation.
Apparently, the effects of not getting enough sleep goes beyond a groggy state of mind and the need for more coffee. Shorter sleep could very well mean a shorter life, so those who love to stay up late at night might want to change their habits.
Sleep Deprivation Linked To Cancer, Diabetes, Alzheimer's, And More
Matthew Walker is the director at University of California, Berkeley's Center for Human Sleep Science, an institution that aims to understand all the positive and negative effects of sleep. Walker has also spent over four years writing a book titled "Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams."
In his book Walker, highlights the connection between sleep deprivation and various major health problems that include cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, and poor mental health. Walker hopes that once people know the link between these issues and sleep deprivation, they will try harder to get enough hours of sleep every night.
If a person sleeps for only about four to five hours in one night, that person's natural killer cells, which are responsible for attacking cancer cells, drop by 70 percent, Walker claims.
Walker wants people to get eight hours of sleep every night. Anything less than seven hours is already considered as sleep deprivation, and further exposes the individual to risk of suffering from the aforementioned health issues.
What Causes Sleep Deprivation?
Many people would link sleep deprivation to the choice of binge watching a Netflix series or the need to work longer hours, for example. However, according to Walker, the root of the problem runs deeper than that.
Walker said that getting a full eight hours of sleep has been stigmatized as a sign of laziness in modern society. Making matters worse is the fact that sleep deprivation is a problem that is not being taken seriously by both employers and the government.
The sleep scientist noted that humans are the only species that choose to skip sleep for whatever purpose, and that this habit should change. In addition to targeting eight hours of sleep, Walker recommends setting specific time for climbing into bed and waking up to help the body get into the rhythm of a routine.
The Importance Of Sleep To Humans
Walker's work is just one of the many research focused on sleep and its importance to the human body. Just this month, there have been reports on a new Mayo Clinic study that says sleeping with dogs can provide a better night of rest, and a Penn Sleep Center study that shows symptoms of depression may be reduced by short-term sleep deprivation.
A study by three graduate students from California Institute of Technology, meanwhile, discovered that brainless jellyfish also sleep, so humans probably need it too.