A Good Night's Sleep

To live you must sleep.

Destroying the part of the brain responsible for sleep (the Ventrolateral Preoptic Area) causes coma and death. Little is actually known about sleep, but it appears essential for learning and memory formation (via acetylcholine).


Insomnia is one of the most commonly suffered conditions in the Western world - on average10% of the population, and those with sleep problems top 30% at any one time. Women are twice as likely to suffer insomnia.

Short-term sleep deprivation causes increased systolic blood pressure, activation of the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight), impaired blood sugar control, increased inflammation (C-reactive protein), higher evening cortisol (stress hormone) levels and reduced leptin levels (an appetite-suppressing hormone) which contributes to weight gain.

All of these factors shorten our lives and our enjoyment of them.


Most people with insomnia are not sleepy during the day, in fact, they're hyper-aroused and caffeine certainly doesn't help! How many people do you know who can have a coffee after dinner and still claim to sleep well? Lots?

Long-term sleep deprivation increases risk of all-cause mortality. Having less than five hours a night increases the risk of heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.

Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland during darkness and helps induce sleepiness. This hormone sets our internal clocks (the circadian rhythm) and supplements have been used to combat jetlag. It appears particularly important to be consistent with sleep patterns on weekends and holidays.


Sleep requirements alter with different stages of life. Teenagers experience a sudden drop in melatonin production so have a biological inclination to retire and wake up later. This is despite an increased need for sleep during which growth hormones are released.

Starting the school day earlier during a teenagers programmed sleep time contributes to mood swings, irritability, poor memory and slower reaction times.

Stress-induced fatigue is thought to be connected with the Reticular Activating System which regulates sleep/wake patterns and the cerebral cortex (the thinking part of the brain), linking thought-forms with fatigue and disturbed sleep.

Determine the optimum number of hours your body needs to feel refreshed and energetic, and try to meet it every night.

If you don't look after your body
where are you going to live?