Tip #15: Get adequate Sleep
Sleep and the circadian system exert a strong regulatory influence on immune functions. Prolonged sleep curtailment produces pro-inflammatory cytokines, best described as chronic low-grade inflammation, and also produce immunodeficiency, which both have detrimental effects on health. (read study)
Importance of Sleep
Melatonin and cancer
Melatonin is produced about 90 minutes after falling asleep in a fully darkened room. It pushes you into a deeper sleep. Production is light sensitive and regulatory “sensors” have been found in the retina. Several studies (e.g. The Boston Nurses Study, one on night-shift working) have shown that irregular sleeping habits and sleeping in synthetic light, lower the production of the hormone and are also associated with higher breast cancer levels. Conversely, blind women develop less breast cancer.
Research has shown that melatonin regulates excess oestrogen levels and excess IGF-1 levels. Both drive cancer and IARC has declared lack of sleep a carcinogen. Melatonin is thus an anti-cancer agent.
Night shift working in men has been shown to triple the rate of prostate cancer, double the rate of bowel cancer, increase the rate of lung cancer by 79 per cent and increase rates of bladder cancer by 70 per cent. (Cancer Watch: University of Quebec)
It is now known that EMF´s (Electromagnetic frequencies) – the sort found from WIFI to mobile phones, to masts etc – can also lower melatonin levels in the body, allowing oestrogen and IGF-1 levels to increase.
The discovery of melatonin in the bone marrow has led to new views on its role in a stronger immune system.
However, the link between lowered levels of melatonin in the bone marrow and the negative effects of EMFs has spawned a debate about leukaemia and particularly childhood leukaemia.
There are nearly a thousand studies showing that melatonin supplementation has important oncostatic effects: both in cancer prevention, and also during chemotherapy, where it has been repeatedly shown to reduce side-effects.
Melatonin levels decline with age, and melatonin supplements have been shown to have anti-aging benefits. Supplementation is now used by night shift workers, nurses, long-haul flyers and a number of top oncology and anti-aging professors on both sides of the Atlantic. It is primarily used in prevention, but strong arguments are made for its inclusion in cancer treatment programmes too.
Supplements of 3 to 6 mgs are commonly taken about 30 minutes before going to bed. Levels above 10 mgs have been thought to cause vivid dreams and hallucination, but there is little scientific evidence. The hormone is freely available over the counter in many countries from Thailand to the USA. But not in the UK or Europe. Research studies suggest that melatonin may act far better when plant-derived rather than synthetic. The plant derived version is called Asphalia.
Studies on Sleep
The following appears on the Mayo Clinic website
Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
I’m having trouble sleeping lately. Does this increase my chances of getting sick?
Answer From Eric J. Olson, M.D.
Yes, lack of sleep can affect your immune system. Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.
During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep.
So, your body needs sleep to fight infectious diseases. Long-term lack of sleep also increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease.
How much sleep do you need to bolster your immune system? The optimal amount of sleep for most adults is seven to eight hours of good sleep each night. Teenagers need nine to 10 hours of sleep. School-aged children may need 10 or more hours of sleep.
The key points of this study included:
Sleep-deprivation experiments in both animals and humans provide the best evidence for a crucial role of sleep in the immune response. The results of these experiments show some inconsistencies, thereby underlining the complexities of measuring the interaction between different durations of sleep deprivation and different immune components. However, in humans, general patterns emerge, indicating that sleep deprivation has detrimental effects on immune-cell number, function and cytokine production.
There is also emerging evidence that chronic partial sleep loss might be more detrimental to immune function than short-term total sleep loss. This is important because it is chronic partial sleep loss that burdens the current population, through shift work, pressured lifestyles, and other stresses and changes in society.
The final piece of evidence for a reciprocal relationship between sleep and immunity is provided by clinical situations (for example, depression or narcolepsy) in which sleep disorders are associated with changes in the immune system.
The effects of sleep deprivation on the immune response might have important implications for protecting the population against infection and malignancy.
This info appears on the US Center for Disease Control website.
Sleep and the Immune System
Scientific evidence is building that sleep has powerful effects on immune functioning. Studies show that sleep loss can affect different parts of the immune system, which can lead to the development of a wide variety of disorders
For example, a modest amount of sleep loss (restricting the time allowed for sleep to 4 hours for one night) reduced natural killer (NK) cell activity to an average of 72%, compared with NK cell activity in participants who had a full night’s sleep. Research indicates that NK cells have a substantial role in killing tumor cells. Reduced functioning of NK cells was associated with a 1.6 times higher risk of dying with cancer (all sites) in an 11-year follow-up survey.
In a similar way, restricting sleep to 4 hours for one night led to the generation of inflammatory cytokines, which play an important role in the development of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders.
Sleep loss is also related to a higher risk for infection. Restricting sleep to 4 hours per night for 6 days, followed by sleep for 12 hours per night for 7 days, resulted in a greater than 50% decrease in production of antibodies to influenza vaccination, in comparison with subjects who had regular sleep hours.
This study includes the following:
- Sleep is a biological need, and adequate sleep duration and quality help maintain immune health.
- Adequate sleep duration can improve infection outcomes and is associated with reduced infectious disease risk.
- Chronic sleep deficiency disturbs immune homeostasis, thereby presumably increasing the risk for the development and amplification of several diseases in which immune dysregulation is common (e.g., cardiovascular, metabolic, autoimmune, and neurodegenerative diseases).
For more info on cancer and sleep, please visit Tuck.com
Here’s a nice article: The Comprehensive Guide to Sleep Deprivation: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Several studies have shown that irregular sleeping habits and sleeping in synthetic light, lower the production of the hormone and are also associated with higher breast cancer…
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