Harvard, Oxford, Manchester, Cambridge and Surrey university scientist have warned that not getting sufficient sleep could result in serious health problems. They have asked that governments and people take this information very seriously.
Conditions such as cancer, type-2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and infections have been linked to a reduction in sleep. They state that the body clock is responsible for massive changes in the body. It changes moods, alertness, physical strength and may affect the risk of a heart attack during the daily cycle.
This comes from our evolutionary past when people were active during the day and rested at night. Scientists have issued warnings that modern life means that people are going against their body clocks, which could have serious consequences for their wellbeing and health.
University of Oxford’s Professor Russell Foster said people are getting around one or two hours less sleep a night than they did 60 years ago. He said mankind has become arrogant and believes that they can discard billions of years of evolution and disregard that our evolution was done under a light-dark system.
He states that this problem affects society in general, not only those who work shifts.
He stated that he has come into contact with children who achieve sleep by taking their parent’s sleeping pills at night and then drinking three Red Bulls when they awaken in the morning.
Modern technology has been blamed for keeping people up late at night and reducing the number of sleep hours.
Professor Charles Czeisler from Harvard University says that smartphones, computers, tablets and energy saving light bulbs have high levels of blue light which is responsible for disrupting our body clocks. He said that blue light in the evening resets our circadian rhythms to a much later hour. It postpones the release of the sleep-promoting hormone and makes it much more difficult for us to arise in the morning.
He said that the exposure to more light is of great concern as we are sleeping less and exposing our bodies to chronic disease.
Experiments have indicated that people who work shifts are at risk of becoming pre-diabetic within a few short weeks.
Dr Akhilesh Reddy, from Cambridge University, stated that the body clock has an influence on all the biological processes and the health risks of opposing the body clock is very clear, particularly for breast cancer.
He stated that we should learn to live rhythmically, in line with our environment and not be exposed to too much bright light before bedtime as it will have an effect on our sleep and body clock.
The body changes may not be noticeable, but in the long-term, the health consequences could be disruptive.
Professor Andrew Loudon, from Manchester University, stated that governments should view this problem in a serious light and should start by reviewing the health consequences to those who work shifts.
Image Credit: R Pollard