There is much evidence to support the fact that the amount of time you sleep could be the most
important predictor of how long you will live!
As a person who has been deep into nutrition for many years, the above statement was pretty
shocking to me. My own knowledge and sharing of nutrition do’s and don’t’s with others has
focused primarily on eating your fruits and veggies, taking some good nutritional supplements,
getting adequate exercise, and not being subjected to too much stress. But the right amount of
sleep as a predictor of longevity??? Well, here’s some things I have learned, much of this
acquired from a book, SUPER FOODS HEALTHSTYLE, written by Steven G. Pratt, M.D., and
A poll taken in the year 2000 by the National Sleep Foundation found that sleep debt is a
problem for more than half of America’s workforce. Their data suggests that in the last century
we’ve reduced the average amount of time we sleep by 20 percent.
Of course, I suppose that most of us recognize that if we don’t get adequate sleep for a night or
two, we may not function as well the next day. If we work a job where accuracy is super
important, or if we are driving a long distance, we sure don’t want to be sleepy. And we may
even realize that adequate sleep affects our immune system. With a lack of sleep, we may be
more likely to get sick. But tying the optimum amount of sleep into various diseases and even
our longevity…well, maybe that’s another food for thought!
In reality, sleep deprivation is taking a serious toll on our overall health! A sleep debt of merely
3 or 4 hours in a week may have a direct bearing on the following:
• Coronary heart disease
• Immune function
• Cognitive performance
You do not have to lose huge amounts of sleep before it takes a toll. One study found that
sleeping less than 4 hours per night was associated with a 2.8 times higher rate of mortality for
men and a 1.5 times higher rate for women. “The author of this study also found that length of
sleep time was a better predictor of mortality than smoking, cardiac disease, or hypertension.”
Another study found that people who slept six hours or less a night had a 70 per cent higher
mortality rate over a nine-year period than those who slept seven to eight hours a night!
How much sleep do we need?
• A six to twelve year old will need between 10 and a half and 11 and a half hours
of sleep a night.
• A teen-ager will require a little less sleep, probably around 9 or 10 hours a night.
• An adult should be getting 7 to 8 hours sleep each night.
In addition, it is better for you to sleep at night than during the daytime. In fact, sleeping between
the hours of 10 P.M. and 6 A.M. is considered to be optimal. This allows for your body to
restore its needed melatonin levels in a natural way.
Melatonin is a natural hormone made by your body’s pineal gland. During the day the pineal is
inactive, but when darkness comes, the pineal is “turned on” and begins to actively produce
melatonin. This writer believes that allowing your body to produce melatonin in a natural way,
by sleeping at night, is much wiser for most people, than purchasing melatonin as a supplement.
So, close your eyes at night to avoid diabetes, to lose weight, to strengthen your immune system,
to feel better, and to live longer!