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The more we have learnt about sleep the more we have come to realise that it is far more than a simple recharging of our batteries. In fact, sleep plays a central role in our health and wellbeing, both mentally and physically. We have read some amazing studies lately about how sleep helps regulate your emotions, it plays a vital part in memory, it helps to control your appetite and so much more. Sleep is a cornerstone of your health and wellbeing.
In fact, we just read an interesting article that outlined yet another key role that sleep plays in health, it appears that sleep may well play a role in helping your fight that most dreaded of illnesses: cancer. The research actually looks at the converse side of the situation, the relationship between poor sleep and cancer, it was the first of its kind and its results were fascinating, to say the least. The study was done by a team from both the University of Chicago and the University of Louisville over a two year period.
There have been many studies that have found that there is a link between lack of sleep and common consequences such as irritability and even memory recall issues, but this is the research has shown that poor sleep can also leave the immune system struggling to deal with cancerous cells.
The research use observations of mice, with some being able to sleep well and other groups having their sleep cycles disturbed numerous times each night. The mice were all injected with cancer cells and developed cancer but within a month the mice whose sleep was being broken each night had tumours that were twice the size of those that were sleeping soundly each night.
Some of the tumours were examined and not only were they twice the size but those mice who were not sleeping well also had far more malignant and aggressive tumours. While the mice that were sleeping well had relatively benign tumours those whose sleep was broken had tumours that were attacked the surrounding bone and muscle.
One of the researchers made the comment that “This study offers biological plausibility to the epidemiological associations between perturbed sleep and cancer outcomes...The take-home message is to take care of your sleep quality and quantity like you take care of your bank account”. And this certainly seems to be advice that we could all take on board. Not sleeping well will not just leave you feeling more tired and irritable, it will not just hamper your memory, but if your body is fighting off a serious illness, from the flu up to cancer, then lack of sleep will hamper your body’s ability to fight back.
Good sleep is good health, do everything you can to have the first and the latter will be yours as well.
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