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I have written before about the vital importance and increasing emphasis on good quality and quantity sleep.

Vital importance of good quality and quantity sleep

Dr Ross Walker
19 June 2014

by Ross Walker

I have written before in these articles about the vital importance and increasing emphasis on good quality and quantity sleep. Recent studies have shown a regular dose of sleep somewhere between seven to eight hours, has the same health benefit as not smoking. 

It is estimated that around a third of the adult population suffers from insomnia with many more suffering other sleep related problems such as sleep apnoea. Insomnia is defined as an inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep, with complaints such as early morning wakening being a specific sub-disorder often indicating other health issues, such as depression. 

Because of our modern world, many sleep disorders are starting earlier in life. The everyday use of modern electronics such as televisions, computers, smartphones and even smart houses, appear to be having health effects, not just in adults, but also now in children. 

A recent study from the United States has directly linked the amount of time watching television during early childhood with poor quality and quantity of sleep i.e. the more TV, the worse the sleep.  The same study also clearly showed that reduced sleep in early childhood is clearly linked to increasing rates of obesity and overall body fat by age seven. An earlier study from 2006 demonstrated the vicious cycle of reduced sleep leading to increasing fatigue, reduced physical activity, lower energy expenditure, subsequent obesity and poor sleep etc. Another study from the UK recently released reinforced these findings. 

The clear recommendations emerging reinforces three consistent messages to improve sleep and reduce obesity, especially in children (these two conditions of reduced sleep and obesity are clearly linked.)

  1. Institute for your children a consistent bedtime.
  2. Limit the intake of caffeinated beverages (in children – typically from Cola based drinks).
  3. Cut out high tech distractions, especially in the bedroom, such as television, computers and mobile phones.

The news is not much better for adults with a recent study from Taiwan, showing that thirty percent of the population who regularly suffer insomnia, have a fifty four percent higher stroke risk with an eight times higher risk for poor sleepers in the 18‑35 year old range.  The message is very clear.  Good quality and quantity sleep is a vital health measure.

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