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by | Jul 30, 2019 | Sleep | 2 comments

Don’t Give Up On Your Dreams, Keep SLeeping!

I have heard many people say “I will sleep when I am dead.”  This is usually a reaction to wanting to get more done in a day than time allows so we are willing to give up sleep to get things accomplished.  I know I have been guilty at times of staying up later to get stuff done, especially as a young mom.  As I have learned in my training that sleep is extremely important, and we should not convince ourselves of the mindset that I will get to it later.  Let’s dive into why sleep should be top propriety.


Most research will say that a human cannot go more than 3 or 4 days without sleep or they will die.  The Guinness Book of World Records will not allow people to do sleep experiments to get into the book because they know the side effects that would occur with the main one being death.
Most accidents (car, work-related, messing up at work, etc.) happen due to lack of sleep.  After about 48 hours of lack of sleep, the body goes through micro-sleep sessions where it feels like you are sleeping with your eyes open almost in a daydream or trance-like state.  Then you can forget the last 10-15 minutes or forget how you got somewhere.  This is one reason accidents happen.

When my granddaughter was born, I stayed up for almost 42 hours straight.  It took me several days to feel rested again.  I had begun the micro-sleeps, and certain memories became a blur.  Have you ever stayed up for that long only to catch a cold or flu?  That is because your immune system becomes suppressed.  The body is trying to stay alive and starts to supply less energy to parts of the body or body systems that at the time, seem less important.  I luckily did not get sick then, but I also took more time to rest in the days after that to try to stay healthy.  I took supplements and used essential oils to help boost my immune system.

Your body requires sleep to repair the daily damage that occurs from everyday life and puts the body back into homeostasis.  The brain will not clean or repair itself until you are asleep.  So imagine how stinky your trash can get in just one day.  If the brain cannot take its trash out daily, it builds up and can cause damage.  It is also shown to cause more amyloid plaque to build up, which is thought to be one contributing factor in Alzheimer’s disease.

Why is it that some people eat a healthy diet and exercise but still do not lose weight?  You guessed it because of not enough sleep.  One night of bad sleep or not enough sleep can put your body into insulin resistance.  That means now you are storing more calories as fat than you need and can be a major contributor to weight gain.

The body has circadian rhythms.  Your sleep cycle is determined by the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) located in the hypothalamus. It is known as the master clock and runs on inputs from light (sun) and dark (moon). Light stimulates cortisol to wake your body up, and dark stimulates the production of melatonin to help you sleep.  If we eliminated all cues to when we should fall asleep or when we should wake up, the SCN tells your body that.  With the invention of artificial light, we can override the SCN system some causing the body to become unbalanced.

Why caffeine affects sleep.  Caffeine block receptors that keep adenosine trapped inside the cell.  When caffeine is metabolized the adenosine releases causing a person to get sleepy.  What do we do…reach for more caffeine.  This affects the mechanism of a person’s sleep-wake cycle.  Some of the genetics that I look at for sleep has to do with adenosine receptors and their sensitivity. This is why some people can drink caffeine up until bedtime and still be able to fall asleep where some can drink it at breakfast and have trouble falling asleep at night.

During sleep, we are storing short-term memories into long-term memories.  Lack of sleep causes forgetfulness due to not storing memories.  I will continue this part into the next blog and take a deeper dive into sleep and the brain.  Stay tuned…

Author: Karey Spear, BS, MS, DCN Candidate