4 easy exercises to sleep better 3:34
(CNN Spanish) --
(CNN Spanish) --
In recent years, science has discovered the enormous benefits of having healthy sleep habits, such as a good memory and a longer life span.
The problem is that the many distractions of modern life make us neglect how much sleep we get.
In today's episode, Dr. Elmer Huerta has some tips to make sleep an important part of your lifestyle.
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Hello, welcome to this new episode of "In Consultation with Dr. Huerta", your favorite health podcast on CNN in Spanish. Dr. Elmer Huerta greets you, I hope you are well.
In today's episode we will analyze a recent and important study on a human activity that we all practice, every day... sleeping.
The study, presented in a preview of the American College of Cardiology Annual Scientific Session to be held in conjunction with the World Congress of Cardiology in New Orleans March 4-6, is the first to link sleep quality and quantity over time. of a person's life, especially in young people, who are around 30 years of age.
The author says this is the first study he knows of that has been done to look at how sleep quality, as well as sleep duration, might influence life expectancy.
Why do we sleep?
Probably the most poetic explanation of the mystery of sleep is given by Greek mythology, when it says that Hypnos, the god of sleep, is the twin brother of Thanatos, the god of non-violent or natural death.
That is, sleep and death are twin brothers.
Perhaps even more interesting is that among the more than 1,000 children that Hypnos, the god of sleep, had, three were the most prominent:
Morpheus, who produced pleasant dreams;
Fobetor, who produced nightmares;
And Fantaso who produced dreams full of fantasy.
Going to the present, despite the fact that science has been able to describe in detail the brain and biological phenomena that occur during sleep, there is still no single theory to explain why we sleep.
All we know is that sleep is essential to stay alive.
What happens during sleep?
There are some theories to explain why we sleep.
The first is the reparative theory, which tells us that during sleep we restore and revitalize the mental and biological functions of the organism.
Animals completely deprived of sleep have been shown in experiments to lose all immune function and die within weeks.
When you sleep, tissues repair themselves, muscle cells divide, proteins are synthesized, and growth hormone is released.
The second theory is that of energy conservation, which says that we sleep to reduce demand and save energy, which will be used to carry out our survival activities the next day.
In this regard, the metabolism of a human being is reduced by up to 10% during sleep.
And the third is the brain plasticity theory.
It is thought that sleep serves to shape the structural development of the brain —especially in the first years of life— and also has an important role in memory storage, that is, sleep helps in learning.
The study that we are going to develop in this episode is in line with the reparative function of sleep, that is, its impact on general health, more specifically on longevity.
Sleep and its impact on longevity
What the researchers did was analyze data from the National Health Interview Survey between 2013 and 2018, which included questions about sleep and sleep habits in 172,321 participants.
The average age of the respondents was 50 years and 54% were women.
During the more than 4 years of follow-up of the participants, 8,681 people died;
of which, 30% died from heart disease, 24% from cancer, and 46% from other causes.
What was unique about the study was that the researchers were able to match the identity of the survey participants with records from the National Death Index up to December 31, 2019.
In other words, it was possible to find out if the people who answered the questions about the quality and quantity of their sleep had died and from what they had died.
It's more than sleep: the habits for a good sleep
The researchers assessed five characteristics of sleep quality in the participants:
1) If they got to sleep between seven and eight hours a night, which is considered the ideal range
2) If they did not have difficulty falling asleep more than twice a week
3) If they had no difficulty sleeping straight through the night without interruptions more than twice a week
4) If they did not use any sleep medication
5) If they felt well rested upon waking, at least five days a week
Each of those five healthy sleep habits was assigned a point.
People were rated according to the number of the five habits they had, therefore zero being the minimum and five the maximum.
The working hypothesis of the scientists was that if a person had the highest score, and therefore the ideal sleep behavior, they were more likely to live longer than those with a lower score and, therefore, lower quality of sleep. .
The results of the study
After removing from the analysis other factors that may also increase the risk of death, such as lower socioeconomic status, tobacco and alcohol use, and other medical conditions, it was found that, compared with people who scored from zero to One, those who had a perfect score of five—and therefore better sleep quality—had:
30% less likely to die for any reason,
21% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease,
19% less likely to die from cancer
And 40% less likely to die from causes other than cancer or heart disease, such as accidents, infections, or neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and Parkinson's disease.
What's more, compared to people with scores of zero to one, or poorer sleep quality, participants with a perfect score, or five points, had a 4.7-year longer life expectancy for men and 2 .4 years longer for women.
The authors do not know what might explain the difference in longevity between men and women despite the good quality of sleep in both groups.
It is possible, a longevity expert told CNN, that it may be due to the difficulty of making a correct diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea in women, a condition that decreases the amount of oxygen in the blood and can predispose to suffer diseases of the heart. heart.
5 tips to sleep well
It has long been known that good sleep hygiene includes five tips for achieving a restful and beneficial sleep.
The first thing is to know that —despite there being variations in the number of hours that a human being needs to sleep each night— it is accepted that this number is between 7 and 8 hours.
The first sleep hygiene tip, then, is to plan to sleep that number of hours: 7 to 8 per night.
The second is having the determination—and planning—to go to bed at the same time every day.
The third is to have a routine—including weekends and holidays—of getting up at the same time every day.
The fourth is to avoid alcohol before bed.
A drink at night apparently helps us fall asleep more quickly, but the problem is that, when alcohol metabolism is completed in the middle of the night, we wake up and it is more difficult to fall asleep again.
The fifth tip is to avoid loud visual and loud distractions at bedtime.
In that sense, stopping using phones, tablets and computers or listening to music at high volumes can help you fall asleep more quickly and sustainably.
We know that behavior changes in adulthood are often harder to achieve, which is why experts advise parents to help start those habits very early in their children's lives.
Just as it's never too late to quit smoking, it's never too late to start and maintain good sleep hygiene, especially in people in their thirties.
Having a few more years of life can be the reward for that effort.
Do you have questions for Dr. Huerta?
Send me your questions on Twitter, we will try to answer them in our next episodes.
You can find me at @DrHuerta.
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Thank you for your time.