According to a recent study, more and more Americans are working more, and sleeping less. The average hours of sleep per person has been steadily declining since the past 20 years. Nearly 70 percent of all Americans claim to get less than 8 hours of sleep a day, with a survey finding that 30 percent of workers admitted falling asleep on the job, or feeling very sleepy while at work. But aside from impacting work, and increasing the risk of accidents or mishaps, lack of sleep can trigger a whole range of downstream physical side effects, one of which is a decrease in the production of HGH.
The body releases HGH while it sleeps, and the prime time for growth hormone release is during slow wave sleep (SWS), which is the phase when the brain waves are mostly in delta. The old saying, “You grow while you sleep,” is perfectly true, and we could all do better to pay more heed to this bit of age old wisdom.
REM and NREM sleep…
A brief outlay of a normal sleep process usually involves REM and Non REM (NREM) sleep. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is the part when active dreaming occurs, and little HGH is produced during this phase. That is why, a night’s sleep involving plenty of dreaming will usually leave you feeling drained and unrefreshed the next day.
Non REM sleep is a much deeper phase of sleep than REM sleep, and during this phase, the pituitary produces high levels of HGH. The pattern of HGH release closely follows the brain wave patterns, with a large burst shortly after falling asleep, and continuing thereafter according to sleep wave patterns.
Sleep requirements don’t change with age, but the quality does.
Your sleep requirements don’t change with age, the usual 7-8 hours rule still applies, it seems. But, the quality of sleep seems to change. Older people sleep less in the slow wave phase – the most important type of sleep. The older you are, the less quality sleep you get. A lack of slow wave sleep will then result in less HGH produced, and thus a vicious cycle is formed. Also, the sleep hormone, melatonin, decreases with age, exacerbating the condition.
It can be seen that melatonin, HGH, and sleep (or rather, the quality of it), are all interlinked together. People that get enough sleep are usually energetic, in good spirits, and have good immunity and skin tone. All these can be traced back to higher levels of growth hormone circulating in their blood, concurrent with the amount of adequate rest that their bodies derive from sleeping enough.
If you have been running up a sleep debt…
Sleep debt is a coined term to denote prolonged periods of inadequate sleep. If you’ve been burning the midnight oil for whatever reason, perhaps it’s time to reflect on the long term consequences this sleep debt may have on your body, particularly in HGH levels which will (if they haven’t yet) take a big dip.
That’s why I also notice that people who intentionally go without adequate sleep tend to look beat up, and older beyond their actual age…
Although our modern day living exerts such pressures upon us, it’s still important to know what we are losing beyond just feeling tired or sleepy the next day. Not only does lack of sleep impact HGH levels, but it also increases the risk of heart attacks, and type 2 diabetes.