While sleep has always been understood as an important part of a normal daily routine, the vital contribution the right amount of healthy sleep makes to the state of wellness in individuals of all ages is increasingly coming into better focus through a wave of worldwide research studies. The lack of sufficient healthy sleep is manifesting in a host of serious health consequences and health care professionals and consumers alike are starting to wake" up to the need to pay close attention to the science of healthy sleep and the personal behavior patterns that can better support this vital health function.
Sleep and the physiological, biochemical and psychological processes of repair and development that take place during sleep are vital to the health and growth of every individual. The erosion of those functions impacts every aspect of a person's life, including physical and mental performance, resistance to sickness and the ability to interact positively with others, and on and on. Every component of society is seriously impaired by sleep deprivation.
"If sleep does not serve an absolutely vital function, then it is the biggest mistake the evolutionary process has ever made," said Allan Rechtschaffen, noted pioneer in the field of sleep research. "Studies of sleep and sleep deprivation suggest that the functions of sleep include recovery at the cellular, network, and endocrine system levels, energy conservation and ecological adaptations, and a role in learning and synaptic plasticity." What this means in more simple terms is that the lack of healthy sleep impacts every function and every system in the body and today's world is making it harder and harder to maintain a healthy sleep level.
PROBLEMS IN CHILDREN: The research community worldwide is yielding dramatic new findings, though in many cases they are validating, according to rigorous scientific methods, things we suspected to be the case. In a recently published study, pediatric researchers were able to establish a clinical link between sleep problems in children and significant behavior problems. In a paper titled "Sleep Is Associated with Behavior in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Autism Treatment Network (ATN) Study" by a distinguished trio of researchers, Suzanne Goldman, Beth Malow and Daniel Coury,1 1056 children, ages 3-18 were studied to evaluate the quality and quantity of sleep and chart specific sleep issues and problems. The authors of this study stated:
"Our findings support the hypothesis that sleep factors are associated with problematic daytime behaviors in children with well-defined ASD. Using a strictly defined correlation coefficient cutoff we showed that the behavioral domains of affective disorders and anxiety are associated with problematic sleep." Again, in more simple terms, lack of sleep or disturbed or "unhealthy sleep behavior" leads to real problems in young people.
SLEEP LOSS AND SERIOUS ACCIDENTS: Falling asleep at the wheel is the most costly and devastating problem on US and European highways.2 Accidents in the workplace due to sleep deprivation are commonplace and damaging to industry. Sleep deprivation is often overlooked for the role it plays in the occurrence of performance errors. These human errors caused by impaired cognitive functions after long periods without sleep have resulted in catastrophic accidents, such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
Ling-Ling Tsai, PhD of the National Chung-Cheng University in Taiwan, and colleagues report that the impaired error monitoring that is caused by sleep deprivation can have disastrous consequences when critical mistakes are not corrected. "Many tragic accidents involved in human errors are related not to one single error but a series of erroneous responses," says Dr. Tsai. "One single error followed by corrections may not make it a big deal, but one single error followed by more errors leads to its own significant consequences. One night of sleep deprivation facilitates the occurrence of the latter."3
SLEEP AND HEART HEALTH: Lack of sleep has been associated with worsening of blood pressure and cholesterol, both risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Your heart will be healthier if-you get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. People who don't get much sleep are more likely than those who do to develop calcium deposits in their coronary arteries, possibly raising their risk for heart disease.4
OBESITY AND LACK OF SLEEP: Perhaps the most sensational developments in the new wave of sleep research are findings that indicate that there is a strong and direct link between lack of sleep and the current epidemic of obesity in Western nations, particularly the United States. Researchers have also found that people who sleep less than seven hours per night are more likely to be overweight or obese. It is thought that the lack of sleep impacts the balance of hormones in the body that affect appetite. The normal production of the hormones ghrelin and leptin, important for the regulation of appetite, has been found to be disrupted by lack of sleep.5
"The growing segment of the-population with-serious sleep problems is alarming on many levels, especially since there are steps people of all ages can take to better provide for healthy sleep," said Coralee Van Egmond, DC, FICA, Professional Development Director of the International Chiropractors Association (ICA).
The ICA, a worldwide chiropractic professional society with members in 51 nations, is working in close cooperation with King Koil Sleep Systems, a prestigious international bedding manufacturing concern, to explore the best foundations for healthy sleep. "The International Chiropractors Association has partnered with King Koil for many decades to engineer and design the optimum spine support for people of all sizes, sleeping in any position," said Dr. Van Egmond. "We believe that the chiropractic profession is perfectly positioned to contribute to this important design function and also to provide healthy sleep consultation and advice, as well as clinical care when needed, to consumers of every age." Spine support and proper sleep surfaces and conditions have been the subject of intensive research on the part of the International Chiropractors Association and the findings of those studies have been applied to the design of sleep systems by King Koil.
The International Chiropractors Association is presently engaged in a comprehensive review of sleep research with the aim of making those findings available to chiropractic practitioners worldwide. "We also believe that this review of the current state of sleep research will point to areas of need and, in cooperation with our affiliated educational institutions and with the support of our sleep products partner King Koil, we hope to help fill such gaps in sleep knowledge," said Dr. Van Egmond. For more information on sleep, chiropractic and your good health contact the International chiropractors Association [email protected], log onto the Association's website at www.chiropractic.org or visit your local chiropractor.
The International Chiropractors Association is presently engaged in a comprehensive review of sleep research with the aim of making those findings available to chiropractic practitioners worldwide. We also believe that this review of the current state of sleep research will point to areas where additional study is needed and, in cooperation with our affiliated educational institutions and with the support of our sleep products partner King Koil Indonesia, we hope to help fill such gaps in the understanding of healthy sleep. For more information contact International Chiropractors Association at [email protected], 01-703-528-5000 or contact King Koil Indonesia.