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Why Do We Get Sick When We are Stressed? July 4, 2016

Posted by Dr. Adam McLeod, ND in Alternative medicine, best vancouver naturopath, best vancouver nutritionist, Healing, immune system, immunity, stress.
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Your Body & Stress: A Three Part Series (1 of 3)

Written by: Dr. Kaleigh Coolsaet

Everyday in my practice I ask my patients about their stress; what are their particular stressors and how are they coping? I’m interested in knowing how they perceive stress and spend time educating them on how it can negatively impact their health. This allows me to help them create a plan to support their body through stressful times and improve their health and well being.

Stress comes in all kinds of situations in our lives, from an acutely stressful situation (losing a job, losing a loved one, a car accident, etc.) to chronic low-grade stressors like sitting in traffic while you’re late for work, constantly performing to meet deadlines. On top of these external stressors we also need to account that our lifestyle can be stressful for our bodies too: not getting adequate quality sleep, eating on the run or not eating the right foods for our bodies.

When we add up all these little stressors over time, it builds up and can be detrimental to our health. Our stress response is how our body adapts to stress. It’s actually a good thing and our stress response saves our lives and helps us perform better and change to stressors. It’s when we are constantly challenging and pushing our stress response that it can negatively impact our health.

Over the next three blogs I’m going to discuss stress and how it relates to a specific body system (Immune System, Digestive System & Endocrine [Hormone] System). Understanding how it can negatively affect our health can be helpful in implementing simple lifestyle changes to help better manage our stress response and take better care of our bodies. Today we will start with the Immune System.

Do you ever notice that you or the ones around you seem to always catch a bug during periods of higher stress or right after? As we are in our busiest season, when it’s least convenient or right before your vacation the second you give your body a chance to recover, we succumb to the virus that’s been floating around. This is because chronic stress has been demonstrated to exert a significant suppressive effect on immune function (Hu, D. et al). As we move through our busy lives and encounter stressor after stressor, our bodies release cortisol. Cortisol is essential to life and we need it, but if it’s released too much or for too long, it suppresses our immune system and these can leave us vulnerable to acquiring the common cold or flu.

So what can you do to help your immune system during times of high or prolonged stress?

3 Tips You Can Do Today To Help Your Immune System:

  • Get adequate sleep
    • Proper sleeps allows our bodies to repair and regenerate
    • Aim for 8-10 hours per night
    • Ensure your sleeping in a dark room
  • Eliminate Sugar from your diet
    • Sugar suppresses our immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to catching the common cold or flu
    • Sugar decreases our immune response
    • Can cause energy spikes and crashes, leaving you feeling more tired and stressed.
  • Find time for Exercise
    • Helps to boost your immune system
    • Acts as a natural stress reducer

Try and implement one of these tips each week to support your immune system and to help increase your bodies own positive stress response. If you want more stress busting tips stay tuned for the next two blogs exploring how stress affects our digestive tract and hormones. Both will include more tips on how you can support your body through periods of stress.

Best in Health,

Dr. Kaleigh

What You Need to Know About Sleep August 20, 2015

Posted by Dr. Adam McLeod, ND in Healing, Health, Sleep.
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The number one thing you need to know about sleep? It is important!

The average person spends 36% of their lives asleep and there is good reason for this. Sleep is as essential to our health and well being as diet, exercise and all the other little things you do to keep yourself healthy. As with diet it is not only quantity of sleep but also quality. The average sleep time historically was about 9 hours. Now, we average about 6.5 hours with an increasing number of us living on even less. According to Lucassen et al. (2008) “Chronic sleep disruption can be regarded as a physiological stressor”. The knock on health effects of both short term and chronic lack of sleep mean we should all be making sleep as much of a priority as going to the gym or eating our 5 a day.

Why is Sleep so Important?

While there are many different theories about the purpose of sleep, it is widely acknowledged that sleep is a time of restoration and rebuilding within the body.

Sleep is Needed for Your Brain to Rebuild

One example of this is in the brain where flushing of the fluid around the brain throughout the brain cells removes waste products. This process mainly occurs during sleep. Therefore without sleep your brain basically cannot properly rid itself of waste products including amino acids. These include substances such as amelyoid beta – a chemical involved in alzheimer’s. Other brain processes such as memory consolidation and processing are carried also out during sleep. Studies have shown that students will retain more information if they sleep on it.The 5 hours after learning is the critical time for memory consolidation and it is sensitive to sleep deprivation (Hagewoud et al. 2010). Have you ever had a problem and then slept on it and figured it out the next morning? This is because problem solving ability increases during sleep because neural connections increase.

Sleep Helps with Weight Loss 

As we all know obesity is one of the most biggest health challenges facing us today. Contributing factors include sedentary lifestyle and poor diet. Another possible factor (and therefore another weapon in the fight against obesity) is sleep. When you don’t sleep enough your body craves stimulants such as sugar, carbohydrates, caffeine and nicotine to help it sustain itself. Lack of quality sleep can lead to poor diet and lifestyle choices as your body is simply too tired to cope without some sort of additional help. Quality sleep will not only reduce your risk of relying on these stimulants but sleep also decreases the production of grelin- the hormone responsible for hunger. So getting a good night’s sleep can also help you stay on track with maintaining a healthy diet throughout the day.

Lack of Sleep Can Impair Your Body’s Ability to Heal Your Brain!

Sleep deprivation undoubtedly puts the body under stress.  Lack of sleep impairs our brain functionality and can cause damage to the brain. Studies on rats have shown the antioxidant glutathione decreases in some parts of the brain when the rats are deprived of sleep. This chemical is essential for the protection of cells from damage by free radicals, heavy metals and other harmful chemicals in the body. One part of the brain that was found to be particularly vulnerable was the hypothalamus and the study hypothesizes that this could be a factor in the impaired functionality experienced as a result of sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation also effects the stress hormone systems of the body. Meerlo, Sgoifo and Suchecki (2008) state that sleep deprivation may have a direct activating effect on these systems and long term, could affect the reactivity of these stress systems to to other challenges and stressors. This means that long term lack of sleep may inhibit your body’s ability to cope with challenges such as stress and illness.  Increases in blood pressure caused by lack of sleep can potentially contribute to cardiovascular disease. Elevated glucose and insulin levels which are known side effects of sleep deprivation are contributory factors in diabetes. These are just some of the ways sleep physically affects the body.

What Affects our Ability to Sleep?

Many different facets of modern life interfere with the natural rhythm of our body clock also known as circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is the internal system that regulates our wake/sleep pattern. It is seen throughout the natural world in plants, animals, fungi and bacteria. This rhythm is controlled by light. In the natural world this would mean daylight. Nowadays, we are surrounded by lights from electric light bulbs, computer screens, televisions and cellphones at all hours of the day and night. This can interfere with this natural rhythm which evolved over thousands of years in a world dominated by sunlight as the main source of light. Overstimulation by unnatural light sources is thought to be one of the contributory factors to the decline of sleep quality in modern life.

Another factor affecting sleep which researchers have identified is our work. Åkerstedt et. al (2002) identified some of the major aspects of work that affect our sleep in different ways. High work demands, physical effort at work, work related stress and the social situation, feelings of support at work all contribute to sleep disruption. The study also identified other factors such as obesity, lack of exercise, age, gender and even martial status as predictors of sleep deprivation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, having a good social support indicated a lower risk for sleep disturbance and poor sleep patterns while being over 45, female, a smoker and overweight increased that risk.

How Do I Know If I am Getting Enough Quality Sleep?

As previously mentioned it is not simply a case of time yourself to sleep for 8 hours of sleep a day (though that does work for many people). The quality of sleep is also crucial as is recognizing that different people have different sleep patterns at different times in their lives. Teenagers internal body clock predisposes them to stay up late at night and wake up late in the day. As we age, people become less capable of sleeping in a large block of time. Older people do not need less sleep but napping is a more effectual way for them to rest. The key things to think about in terms of sleep are- Do you wake up feeling rested or is it very difficult for you to get out of bed in the morning? Do you wake up during the night? Do you experience a slump in your energy during the day? Do you find you rely of coffee, nicotine or sugar etc to wake you up or get you through the day? Do you rely on pharmaceuticals or alcohol to help you get to sleep at night? If so then you may need to take control of your sleep pattern and adopt some simple practices to improve your sleep.

What is Sleep Hygiene?

Sleep Hygiene is is term used to describe practices and habits which are conducive to sleep. Getting a good nights sleep sometimes requires a little bit of planning not just before bed but throughout your day. As previously discussed the circadian rhythm or body clock is regulated by light. Avoiding bright light late at night (at least thirty minutes before you plan on going to bed) can help your body to switch to sleep mode. As previously mentioned the body’s circadian rhythm is controlled by light. Even staring at a TV, computer or phone before bed can interfere with this. Bright lights in the bathroom before bed or when you wake up in the middle of the night should be avoided. Switch to softer, more gentle lights to aid sleep.

How do I get Better Sleep?

Exercise is a fantastic tool to help aid sleep. Vigorous exercise in the morning or early afternoon can help you sleep better at night because it decreases stress levels. It should be avoided right before bed as it will stimulate the body to be more wakeful. Gentle exercise like walking, or yoga are helpful as part of an evening unwinding routine.

Caffeine, nicotine sugar and other stimulants should be avoided close to bed time. Experts vary as to the length of time you should stop consuming these before bed. Some sources say about 6 hours others say more or less. You will find the right balance yourself but it is a good idea to err on the side of caution. Many people advocate the use of alcohol as a “night cap” to help induce sleep. However these should be used with caution. While alcohol may help you to get to sleep in the first place, overall it decreases the quality of your sleep throughout the night as your body works to break it down. Avoiding drinking a lot of liquids for 2 hours before bed is also helpful. Waking in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom has a detrimental effect on the quality of your sleep.

A light meal can be helpful to induce sleep. You should avoid going to bed hungry. However, heavy or spicy meals have the opposite effect and as your body works to digest these food it disturbs the normal processes you should be going through during sleep. Milk has been shown to have properties that are conducive to sleep but not everyone tolerates dairy well so this may not be an option for everyone.

Creating an environment in your bedroom that is conducive to sleep is crucial. Apart from the absence of bright light the temperature should be right for sleeping, noise even background noise will effect your sleep so if necessary use earplugs. Avoid to other activities such as eating or working in your bedroom. This will help your mind to associate this room with sleep and aid in moving your body to the sleep stage.

Avoid going to bed when you are not actually tired. Lying in bed thinking about work or the fact that you are not asleep yet will not induce sleep. Don’t look at the clock and count how many hours you have left before you get up. This can lead to stress and anxiety which only further inhibits your sleep. If you are having trouble sleeping get up and go into another room and do something restful (not looking at a screen!). This may include reading a book, listening to soothing music or meditation.

Maintaining the circadian rhythm will help to improve your sleep quality. This means going to bed and waking up at the same time each day as much as possible (yes even on weekends). Napping, though useful for some people should be avoided for those who find it difficult to sleep at night. If you are a person who must nap then avoid napping later in the day (at least 5 hours before bed). Establishing this routine helps your body to learn when it’s time to wake up and when it’s time to sleep.

Bright lights in the morning will help to stimulate the body into wakefulness mode. going outside in the light or opening up the blinds in your room will help to rid you of that early morning grogginess.

Are there Natural Supplements that can Help with Sleep?

There are many supplements that can be beneficial to aid your sleep. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain which controls the sleep/wake cycle. Lack of this hormone is what causes people to be poorer sleepers as they age. The darker days of winter cause the body to produce it at different times in winter and it has been linked to seasonal affective disorder. It has been found to be useful in the treatment of cluster headaches and in high doses it has also been shown to be an effective adjunctive treatment for cancer. It can be used as a supplement to aid sleep with minimal side effects and it is often used to help control the sleeping patterns of shift workers. Magnesium and vitamin D also have a role in sleep. Making sure you are getting enough of these essential vitamins and minerals is helpful in the quest for a restful night’s sleep. Avoiding side effects such as grogginess involves finding the right dose. This varies from person to person and you should consult your naturopathic doctor or health care professional to find the right dose for you.

Non-pharmacological interventions for patients suffering with insomnia were found to be beneficial for 70-80% of patients. (Morin et. al 1999). These could include things like homeopathics, acupuncure, mindfulness and the other techniques previously mentioned. There are many health issues such as sleep apnoea, nervous system issues and abnormal hormone levels which can contribute to poor sleep. Talking to your naturopathic doctor may help to uncover or rule out these issues and help you catch those much needed zzzzz.

If you have any questions about sleep and how you can improve your sleep quality feel free to contact our clinic at info@yaletownnaturopathic.com.


1. Restricted and disrupted sleep: Effects on autonomic function, neuroendocrine stress systems and stress responsivity. Peter Meerlo, Andrea Sgoifo, Deborah Suchecki. Sleep Medicine Reviews. June 2008

2. Sleep disturbances, work stress and work hours-A cross-sectional study. T Åkerstedt, A Knutsson, P Westerholm, T Theorell, L Alfredsson, G Kecklund. Journal of Psychosomatic Research: February 2002

3. Sleep deprivation induces brain region‐specific decreases in glutathione levels

D’Almeida, Vânia1,2; Lobo, Letícia L.1; Hipólide, Débora C.1; de Oliveira, Allan C.2; Nobrega, José N.3; Tufilk, Sérgio1,4

4. Nonpharmacologic treatment of chronic insomnia. An American Academy of Sleep Medicine review. Morin CM, Hauri PJ, Espie CA, Spielman AJ, Buysse DJ, Bootzin RR

Sleep. 1999.

5. Coping with Sleep Deprivation: Shifts in Regional Brain Activity and Learning Strategy

Roelina Hagewoud,1,† Robbert Havekes, PhD,1,†§ Paula A. Tiba, PhD,2 Arianna Novati,1 Koen Hogenelst,1 Pim Weinreder,1 Eddy A. Van der Zee, PhD,1 and Peter Meerlo, PhD1. Sleep. 2010.

6. Regulation of adult neurogenesis by stress, sleep disruption, exercise and inflammation: Implications for depression and antidepressant action. P.J. Lucas, P. Meerlo, A.S. Naylor, A.M. Van Dam, A.G. Bayer, E.Fuchs, C.A. Women, B. Czeh. European Neuropsychopharmacology. 2010

Bacteria help kids stay healthy! March 30, 2014

Posted by Dr. Adam McLeod, ND in Allergies, Alternative medicine, Antibiotics, Colds, Diet, Dreamhealer, Experiments, Healing, Health, Integrative Medicine, naturopathic, Naturopathic Medicine, Naturopathy, Research, Skeptics.
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adam healer bacteria

By: Drs. Kay Judge and Maxine Barish-Wreden

Breaking news: Bacteria help kids stay healthy! In a study published this month in the Journal of Pediatrics, scientist found that daily probiotics help toddlers avoid certain infections. Researchers enrolled 300 children, ages 6 months to 36 months, in day care centers in a double-blinded study. Half of the children received placebos and half received probiotics.

For the children who received probiotics, it was found that there was a reduction in frequency and duration of diarrhea episodes. And surprisingly, there was also a reduction in respiratory tract infections in the children who took probiotics.

The children in the study received the probiotic Lactobaccillus reuteri daily for three months. In addition to the already-mentioned health benefits, the study found a reduction in the number of doctor visits, antibiotic use, absenteeism from day school and parental absenteeism from work.

Other studies on probiotics have found that probiotics may help in reducing acute diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, atopic eczema, tooth decay, C. diff. bacteria colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease, including pouchitis.

So what is this miracle drug? Probiotics are live microorganisms numbering over 100 trillion, including over 500 bacterial species, which normally reside in the human intestinal tract. These microorganisms help in digestion, provide the body with nutrients, help the immune system and help keep harmful microorganisms in check.

Common probiotics are Lactobacillus bulgaris, Streptococcus thermophiles, Lactobacillus acidophilus and casei, and Bifidobacteria. One can maintain a healthy balance of these “good bacteria” in the body by taking products which contain live and active cultures of these bacteria. These can include the pill and liquid probiotic supplements, as well as foods such as yogurt, and fermented foods such as brewer’s yeast, miso, sauerkraut or micro algae.

If you need additional nondairy yogurt options, yogurts made from rice, soy and coconut milk are available on the market. Some of these can contain added probiotics that provide the same benefits as regular yogurt. To ensure that you are getting the benefit of the probiotics in the foods that you are eating, pick those that state “live and active cultures” on the label. Also look for supplements that are not close to their expiration date, as the live bacteria dwindle over time.

Retrieved from: http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/2014/03/28/3027893/integrative-medicine-probiotics.html

For more information about alternative medicine check out http://www.dreamhealer.com

Why garlic is good for the heart October 16, 2007

Posted by Dr. Adam McLeod, ND in Diet.
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garlicResearchers have cracked the mystery of why eating garlic can help keep the heart healthy.

The key is allicin, which is broken down into the foul-smelling sulphur compounds which taint breath. These compounds react with red blood cells and produce hydrogen sulphide which relaxes the blood vessels, and keeps blood flowing easily. The University of Alabama at Birmingham research appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

However, UK experts warned taking garlic supplements could lead to side effects. Hydrogen sulphide generates a smell of rotten eggs and is used to make stink bombs. But at low concentrations it plays a vital role in helping cells to communicate with each other.

And within the blood vessels it stimulates the cells that form the lining to relax, causing the vessels to dilate. This, in turn, reduces blood pressure, allowing the blood to carry more oxygen to essential organs, and reducing pressure on the heart. The Alabama team bathed rat blood vessels in a bath containing juice from crushed garlic.

Striking results

This produced striking results – with tension within the vessels reduced by 72%. The researchers also found that red blood cells exposed to minute amounts of juice extracted from supermarket garlic immediately began emitting hydrogen sulphide. Further experiments showed that the chemical reaction took place mainly on the surface of the blood cells. The researchers suggest that hydrogen sulphide production in red blood cells could be used to standardise dietary garlic supplements.

Lead researcher Dr David Kraus said: “Our results suggest garlic in the diet is a very good thing. “Certainly in areas where garlic consumption is high, such as the Mediterranean and the Far East, there is a low incidence of cardiovascular disease.” Judy O’Sullivan, a cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This interesting study suggests that garlic may provide some heart health benefits.

“However, there remains insufficient evidence to support the notion of eating garlic as medicine in order to reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease. “Having garlic as part of a varied diet is a matter of personal choice. “It is important to note that large amounts in supplement form may interact with blood thinning drugs and could increase the risk of bleeding.”

Exercise, diet work wonders October 12, 2007

Posted by Dr. Adam McLeod, ND in Diet, exercise.
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| Special to the Tribune

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Animals Benefit from Energy Healing September 27, 2007

Posted by Dr. Adam McLeod, ND in Alternatives.
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I learned about energy healing by receiving healings from a practitioner. When I tried to find my horse’s chakras, I took my first steps to becoming a healer myself. Finding the chakras on my horse, Echo, was easy for me. Echo became my first client.

Energy work, energy healing, pranic healing, Reiki, and hands-on-healing are just a few of labels which describe similar systems.. I use Shamballa Multidimensional Healing because it offers the highest vibrational frequencies available on Earth at this time and focuses on empowering the client.

In a Shamballa session, the healer is a channel for Life Force energy, Unconditional Love energy, and Spiritual Light. By holding specific intentions based on the client’s goals, the healer provides a safe space and an opportunity to release and restore balance at the cellular, organ and system levels of the physical body. In addition, limiting beliefs, blocked emotions, and karmic and dna patterns can be replaced with new ways of being. The individual blueprint for that person’s or animal’s body can be repaired and restored to the cosmic seed blueprint of perfection that was originally intended.

About a year a half before I learned about energy healing, Echo, my horse, came in from pasture with muscle spasms in her mid-back. Since I am telepathic with animals, I asked her what had happened. Her answer was like watching a moving picture in my mind. Two horses had chased her. As she ran up a slope on wet grass, her hindquarters slipped sideways and hit the ground, twisting her back. As a result, some vertebrae were stuck and the muscles were in spasm.

Echo was treated both with veterinary acupuncture and chiropractic, as well as gentle massage. While her body seemed to be restored to perfect health, there remained a soft lump on Echo’s back at the spine right behind the saddle area. Two veterinarians said it was probably a cyst that would never go away. I observed it changing shape from time to time, but it did not get smaller.

Eighteen months later, I began teaching myself about energy healing by looking for the primary chakras in Echo’s body. A chakra is a wheel or vortex of spinning energy shaped like a cyclone. When working properly, the physical body receives life force through the chakras and sends out energies it no longer needs. In humans and animals there are 7 primary chakras located along the spine.

You feel for the presence of a chakra by bringing your hand, palm down, in a sweeping motion towards the spine and then swooping back up again. As I moved my hand over Echo’s back, I felt different sensations which helped me identify six of the seven primary chakras. Since I felt the energy, but did not see it, I used my hands to feel Echo’s chakras at various distances above her body.

Echo’s third chakra was located directly over the lump. As I felt the chakra three inches above her physical body, I noticed that part of it seemed higher than the rest, like a funnel within a funnel. I remembered seeing a drawing in Barbara Brennan’s Hands of Light which illustrated what I was feeling with my hands.

I wondered, “How do you fix this?” The answer came. I grasp with my hand the root of the piece that was out of place and put it back where it belonged, inside Echo’s body. I knew that I couldn’t literally place my physical hand into Echo’s physical body, so I just imagined or pretended that I was doing it. Then I checked the top of the chakra again. It felt completely normal.

Two weeks later, the lump on Echo’s back had completely disappeared, never to return.  Read More ….

Many women treat yeast infections that aren’t September 26, 2007

Posted by Dr. Adam McLeod, ND in Research.
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NEW YORK – Only one in every four women who seeks treatment for persistent yeast infections actually has one, a new study suggests.

Women will frequently treat suspected yeast infections themselves with over-the-counter (OTC) products, but the findings show that most of the time this won’t help. In fact, using such medications repeatedly may even cause harm, Dr. Susan Hoffstetter, the co-director of the SLUCare Vulvar and Vaginal Disease Clinic at Saint Louis University, told Reuters Health.

Read More .....

Unhealthy habits tie heart disease, colon cancer September 26, 2007

Posted by Dr. Adam McLeod, ND in Research.
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CHICAGO – Patients showing signs of heart disease are at nearly double the risk of also having colon cancer, perhaps because unhealthy habits and inflammation are at the root of both, researchers said on Tuesday.

The association between heart disease, the single leading cause of death in industrialized countries, and the second most common type of cancer was confirmed in a study of more than 600 patients evaluated at the University of Hong Kong. Read More ....

Omega-3s may cut kids’ diabetes risk September 26, 2007

Posted by Dr. Adam McLeod, ND in Research.
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CHICAGO – A diet rich in fish and other sources of omega-3 fatty acids helped cut the risk that children with a family history of diabetes would develop the disease, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

“It is a relatively large effect,” said Jill Norris, whose study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“It is exciting because it suggests we might be able to develop nutritional interventions to prevent diabetes.” Read More.....

Too Much And Too Little Sleep Doubles Heart Death Risk September 26, 2007

Posted by Dr. Adam McLeod, ND in Research.
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A new UK study suggests that both too much and too little sleep can more than double the risk of death from heart disease.

To be published in the journal SLEEP, the study is the work of scientists from the University of Warwick and University College London and was presented yesterday, Monday 24th September to a meeting of the British Sleep Society.

Study author, Professor Francesco Cappuccio from the University of Warwick’s Warwick Medical School said the study involved over 10,000 civil servants from the Whitehall II Study and investigated the link between patterns of sleep and mortality rates in the group.

The researchers looked at participants’ sleep patterns during 1985 to 1988 and then again during 1992 to 1993, and monitored their mortality rate until 2004.

They adjusted for a range of factors such as age, sex, marital status, body mass index (BMI), smoking status, physical activity, alcohol consumption, self rated health, blood pressure, cholesterol, illnesses, and others.

This allowed them to see clearly what effect changes in sleep patterns over 5 years had on rates of mortality up to 17 years later.

The results showed that participants who cut their sleeping time from 7 hours (the optimum amount recommended for an adult) to 5 hours or less had a 1.7 increase in mortality risk from all causes, and double the risk of death from cardiovascular causes.

Cappuccio said:

“Fewer hours sleep and greater levels of sleep disturbance have become widespread in industrialised societies.”

“This change, largely the result of sleep curtailment to create more time for leisure and shift-work, has meant that reports of fatigue, tiredness and excessive daytime sleepiness are more common than a few decades ago,” he added, and also said that:

“Sleep represents the daily process of physiological restitution and recovery, and lack of sleep has far-reaching effects.”

When they looked at too much sleep, Cappuccio and colleagues found a similar effect, it also increased mortality risk.

Those participants who increased sleep duration from 7 to 8 hours a night were more than twice as likely to die, mostly from cardiovascular diseases, as those who did not change their sleep pattern.

Cappuccio said that while short sleep has been shown to be a risk factor for a range of health problems such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes, leading to higher risk of death, there has been no similarly detailed investigation into the factors underlying the link between long sleep and increased mortality.

He suggested however that:

“Some candidate causes for this include depression, low socioeconomic status and cancer-related fatigue.”

As far prevention is concerned however, he suggested that:

“Our findings indicate that consistently sleeping around 7 hours per night is optimal for health and a sustained reduction may predispose to ill-health.”

Whitehall II is a prospective, longitudinal study of 10,308 men and women working in the London offices of the British Civil Service when enrolled in 1985.

Data collected at baseline came from clinical exams and self-report questionnaires.

Data has been collected in eight waves since that time, with a ninth due next month, October 2007. Whitehall II is named after an earlier cohort, Whitehall I, that included over 18,000 male civil servants and started in 1967.

“A prospective study of change in sleep duration; associations with mortality in the Whitehall II cohort.”
Jane E. Ferrie, Martin J. Shipley, Francesco P. Cappuccio, Eric Brunner, Michelle A. Miller, Meena Kumari, and Michael G. Marmot.
To be published in SLEEP.

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