By Chris Ribeiro
Over recent years, the amount of sleep on average that people are getting is on a steady decline. We live in a culture where sleep is considered as a luxury; something we can cut back on or get more of if we need to. When us as humans go to sleep our brain does not stop working; in fact, it works harder trying to move short term memories into long term memories. Not getting enough sleep can affect your memory and cause some health risks. This deep sleep only lasts for a few hours because your brain then goes into another kind of rest called REM sleep. In this stage (rapid eye movement sleep), your body is paralyzed but your eyes still move around. Memories, emotions, and feelings throughout the day are processed and that is why if you are unexpectedly awoken, it could leave you stressed or anxious.
Could this be linked to the skyrocket in diabetes and obesity? To find this out there was a study done at the University of Surrey’s Sleep Research Centre. Scientists wanted to find out what the effect of just one more hour of sleep would have on a group of of seven volunteers who sleep between six and nine hours. They then split this group into two more groups, one group got six-and-a-half hours of sleep, while the other got seven-and-a-half hours of sleep. After two weeks of making both groups switch sleeping hours, they found out that the group that had to switch from more hours to less had trouble doing mental agility tasks. By looking at blood tests that were included in the experiment, results showed that 500 genes were affected, either increasing or decreasing with the amount of sleep that they had gotten. So the clear message from this experiment is that if you are getting less than seven-and-a-half hours of sleep and can alter it at all so you can get more sleep, then do it because it can affect everything from your genes to your eating habits!