Dr Michael Mosley on the importance of routine for sleep
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Teaming up with the University of Oxford, the doctor set to “explore the extent of the current sleep crisis”. Looking at 207,000 people, the “landmark” census noticed that the average sleep is six hours and 48 minutes – less than experts would like. As sleep plays an important role in your health, this can hike your risk of “nasty” conditions.
As a part of the documentary, the famous doctor underwent a home sleep test, where a gadget measured how much of each sleep stage he was getting.
With four stages in total, there’s one particularly significant for immunity – deep sleep or stage three.
Another expert in the documentary, Dr Rachel Sharman, explained: “This deep stage of sleep is really important for our physiological repair, and it’s also really important for our memory.”
Dr Mosley added: “Getting plenty of this deep, slow-wave sleep also helps improve the immune system and our ability to fight infections.”
Ready to doze off with the device wrapped around his head, little did Dr Mosley know that the data would reveal “something alarming” – he wakes up multiple times during the night.
Dr Sharman told him: “You were in bed for eight hours and 21 minutes but actually when we add up all of these awakenings that you’ve had, you’re only spending 75 percent of the time in bed asleep.”
But anything over 30 minutes awake during the night-time is “problematic”.
This recurring problem is preventing Dr Mosley from reaching the stage of deep sleep as well as getting enough rest.
Dr Sharman warned the expert: “You’re not sleeping enough. And if we’re not sleeping enough, we’re putting ourselves at higher risk of all sorts of nasty things like cardiovascular disease, metabolic dysfunction and even cancer.”
Express.co.uk spoke to Hussain Abdeh, a pharmacist from Medicine Direct, about how a lack of sleep can lead to the serious condition.
He said: “There is conflicting research on how not sleeping properly can increase the risk of cancer.
“However, studies have suggested that a number of factors related to sleep may raise the risk of certain types of cancer, including sleep duration, quality, and consistency.
“One study concluded that people who sleep for less than six hours a night are at risk of developing chronic diseases, especially cancer and stroke.
“A possible reason for this has been found in animal research, which shows that sleep deprivation in animals causes cell damage.
“This may account for the increased cancer risk in humans, although it is yet to be proven in humans.”
Another possible link could be through obesity. The expert noted that this is a “well established” risk factor for cancer and sleep deprivation has previously been associated with obesity.
When it comes to the types of cancer in question, Mr Abdeh shared you could be at a higher risk of:
- Breast cancer
- Liver cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Lung cancer
- Colon cancer.
How can I improve my sleep?
The pharmacist advised: “Having a consistent circadian rhythm is an important part of getting a good night’s rest and, possibly, avoiding cancer.
“One of the simplest ways to achieve this is to set consistent bedtimes and wake-up times.
“For instance, try to get to bed at 11pm each night and wake up at 8am each morning. Do not deviate from this time, even on weekends.”
Another tip he provided is turning off electronics at least one hour before bedtime to help your eyes to “recover”.
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