This has been a great week. I was asked to be on Headline News to talk about a new study looking at how light in your bedroom can lead to weight gain; more on that in a second. I also gave a lecture in San Francisco to a global Chief Marketing Officer conference. Finally, I met with celebrity fitness trainer Peter Park on the important combination of sleep and exercise!
On Headline News I talked about a large scale study where it was discovered that people who slept with a light or the television on shared two similar characteristics that were different from those who slept in total darkness:
- These people tended to already be obese
- Over a 5-year period, compared to similar people, they gained almost 11 lbs
This was only a correlational study, meaning that we cannot say that having a light on will cause the weight gain. We can only say that those people tended to be the ones who gained weight. In another study published in 2016, under more controlled conditions, similar results were observed.
So, what can you do about it?
- If you really do not “need” to watch TV to fall asleep, don’t, or at least set the timer so that it turns off after about an hour.
- Use my blue light blocking glasses every night you use a light. The research is clear and there is really nothing easier to do if you’re going to look at a screen or light at night. I use them religiously and so does all my team; they really help.
- Consider installing sleep enhancing light bulbs.
Does Pulling an All-Nighter Increase Your Risk for Alzheimer’s disease?
In another study, researchers confirmed that acute sleep loss (short-term) appears to leave a specific protein in the brain called Tau, (during stages 3 & 4 of REM sleep this protein would usually get “cleaned up”). Tau has been identified as a biomarker of Alzheimer’s disease.
I have written extensively about Alzheimer’s and sleep, but this research is different. The researchers looked to see if acute sleep loss alters daytime biomarkers, not just whether they are present or not. Researchers did see a direct elevation in Tau from evening to morning in the sleep deprived group, as compared to when these people were fully rested. The study design was rigorous, all subjects went through both experimental sessions, which resulted in a very strong experimental design.
To be clear, one or two nights of sleep deprivation will not “give” you Alzheimer’s, but sleep deprivation appears to contribute to some of the aforementioned biomarkers.
What You Can Do
- Talk to your doctor about whether or not you have genetic prevalence for Alzheimer’s. Even if you don’t see any genetic prevalence, it is still prudent to look into these suggestions:
- Set a consistent sleep schedule
- Stop caffeine by 2 pm
- Stop alcohol 3 hours before bed
- Exercise daily, but stop 4 hours before bed
- Get 15 min of sunlight each morning
- If you already do these things or feel like your issues are bigger than a few suggestions, consider my sleep course to improve your ability to sleep consistently.
- Can’t figure out when to sleep? Consider my chronotype quiz.
Poor Sleep is Linked to Poor Nutrition (Not a Big Surprise Here!).
You have read my previous posts on how food impacts our sleep, but this research continues to reveal new ideas. A recent poster was presented at the Nutrition 2019 conference (the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition), looking at the association between micro and macronutrient intake and sleep. As reported by Sleep Review, the authors stated the results as:
The research is based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a nationally representative sample of US adults. Compared with people who got more than 7 hours of sleep per night, scientists found that people who got fewer than 7 hours of sleep per night on average consumed lower amounts of vitamins A, D, and B1, as well as magnesium, niacin, calcium, zinc, and phosphorus.
However, this was a retrospective study, meaning that this data was previously collected, and we can only see relationships between variables, and cannot determine causality. So, we know they are related but we’re not 100% sure how.
I hope you have a wonderful week. If you watch the Today Show, I will be on both June 19thand 20th. I will be giving a Summer Sleep Survival Guide and talking about how to get couples sleeping better together.
Here are the interviews published this week:
Ready For Travel? Read These Tips To Stay Healthy– The Sunday Edit
How To Make Your Bedroom Instagrammable and Sleep Friendly– The Sunday Edit
Dr. Michael Breus