With the demanding lives we live right now, sleep is never a priority and always expendable. But work and stress are not the only ones to blame. Binge-watching television shows, social media are also responsible for the lack of sleep modern millennials experience today.
Thanks to our nonchalant attitude, brain research that was pushed back but is now expanding rapidly reaching beyond the laboratory and delving into exactly how sleep works in disease and in normal cognitive functions such as memory. The findings yet again covey that our casual disregard for sleep is not just bad but downright dangerous for our health.
An alarming new line of research suggests poor sleep may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s, as even a single night of sleep deprivation boosts brain levels of the proteins that form toxic clumps in Alzheimer’s patients. All-nighters are also said to increase anxiety to clinical levels and even modest sleep reductions are linked to increased feelings of social isolation and loneliness.
“It used to be popular for people to say, ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead.’ The ironic thing is, not sleeping enough may get you there sooner,” said Daniel Buysse, a professor of sleep medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.
“A lot of medical approaches have ignored sleep,” said Ken Paller, a cognitive neuroscientist at Northwestern University. “People think about [poor sleep] as one of the complaints someone with depression or other disorders might have, rather than a critical part of the whole etiology of the disease, which is a new idea.”
But despite the communication about the negatives that come with lack of sleep, researchers think people are still not taking it very seriously. Even doctors who routinely measure blood pressure and weight fail to ask patients how they are sleeping.
So if you’re reading this in the night, you know you need to shut off the phone and try your best to sleep.