Did you know that sleep deprivation profoundly affects your genes, and your gene expression? Let me explain how a recent study was conducted amongst a group of healthy doctors, and they noticed that in those doctors who worked the night shift – so their sleep pattern was very disrupted and they were frequently having to flip their circadian rhythm on its head and stay awake in the night and perform critical jobs and critical functions, and then try and sleep in the day. What they found about these doctors who are working the night shift, is that they have more DNA breaks, so there were more breaks in their DNA and a lower DNA repair for gene expressions – which means their DNA ability to repair genes was diminished.
This is very significant because we know that will lead to increased risk of neurodegenerative disease, of cancer, of cardiovascular disease – and all of that is impacted by sleep. The doctors who weren’t doing the night shift didn’t have the DNA breaks, so it really highlights to us the importance of sleep.
Most of us need (and that is 99.9999999% of us) sleep between seven and eight hours a night. If you can create a sleep window of eight to nine hours, all the better because then you’ll be absolutely ensuring that you’re getting those seven to eight hours. It’s a myth that some people can thrive on six hours of sleep or less a night, for example. There are a tiny proportion of us, who coming back to genes, have that genetic variation, but it is tiny. It’s highly unlikely that it is you, or a person you know, or that hard-hitting politician who thinks they can thrive on very little sleep.
The key message is, if you’re thinking about health, and you’re thinking about disease mitigation, and disease risk reduction, prioritise your sleep. That is the most important thing you can do.
If you’d like to find out more about DNA, genes and sleep, check out our podcast with Dr. Kenneth Pelletier on the Remove the Guesswork Show.
You can listen to the full podcast episode’s here:
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Leanne Spencer is an entrepreneur, coach, TEDx Speaker, author of Remove the Guesswork, and founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited. Bodyshot is a health and fitness consultancy that helps busy professionals get more energy by removing the guesswork around their health, fitness and nutrition. Visit www.bodyshotperformance.com or email [email protected] to register your interest in our services and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.