I’m not the kind of guy you have to lecture about getting more sleep. I LIKE to sleep and I’ve ALWAYS been an eight-hours-a-night guy — sometimes accompanied by gales of laughter from friends and family who think it’s weird to be in bed by ten.
But it seems I’m in the minority. Skimping on sleep has become the American norm. And just as all the goody-goodies warned them, Americans pay a terrible price in their health, including a greater danger of cancer. By some estimates, sleep deprivation is the #1 health problem in America.
Eating yourself to death — that I can understand. Prime rib and Black Forest cake might be worth dying for. The pleasure is undeniable. But wrecking your health because you never get enough sleep? To me, that’s weird! Keep reading and find out what it’s doing to you…
Continued below. . .
The Amish cancer secret
How to cure just about any cancer the Amish way
Is it possible to cure just about any cancer the Amish way? Is it true that many Amish people easily get rid of cancer in just three or four weeks? Are the Amish onto something BIG?
To find out, I interviewed Jakob and Fannie, a young Amish couple from southern Minnesota. Jakob and Fannie are just two out of roughly 800 Amish people each year who travel 2,000 miles by train to go to a little-known cancer clinic.
They told me an amazing, lifesaving tip that everyone should know. . .but almost nobody does.
Click here and I’ll share it with you, absolutely FREE.
The 24/7 electrified, wired world
The wonders of our electrified world have stolen a decent night’s sleep from us. Before electricity, most people went to bad when darkness fell. During the winter, that was early, and people slept a lot. Candles and lamp oil were expensive in a world where the average family made a few hundred dollars a year (if they were lucky). So the sensible thing to do was go to bed.
Then came the electric light bulb.
But it really took television to turn us into addicts to excitement and stimulation. It’s safe to say that, pre-television, everyone got plenty of sleep. Once the tube was ensconced in every home like an altar, millions stayed up to watch the Tonight show and assorted other late-night distractions. And these days, sleep also loses out to the Internet, e-mail, and who knows what else.
Me, I wouldn’t give up an hour’s sleep to watch Leno (or Johnny Carson, back in the Stone Age). But, as I said, I’m in the minority.
How sleep-deprived are YOU?
Take this simple five-point test… suggested by James Maas, PhD, pioneer in the field of sleep research, sought-after speaker, and author of the New York Times Best Seller book, Power Sleep:
- Do you need an alarm clock to wake up in the morning?
- Do you hit the snooze button several times before finally dragging yourself out of bed?
- Do you sleep in on weekends?
- Do you fall asleep the minute your head hits the pillow?
- Do you crave a nap to get through the day?
Did you answer ‘yes’ to any of these?
If so, consider yourself sleep-deprived.
You’re got plenty of company. Consider:
- Sleep problems are reaching epidemic levels, now estimated to be the #1 health related problem in America.1
- 43% of respondents report that daytime sleepiness interfered with their work and other normal daytime activities.2
- In a 2002 “Sleep in America” poll of 1,000 adults, nearly a third said that they need at least eight hours to avoid feeling sleepy the next day. However, their average sleep time was only 6.9 hours on weeknights and 7.5 on weekends.3
- Young people are worst offenders. Nearly every high school and college student is seriously sleep deprived, getting an average 6 hours per night, but needing 9-1/2 hours to be fully alert.
- Falling asleep the moment your head hits the pillow is a sure sign of sleep deprivation… a well-rested person takes 15-20 minutes to fall asleep.
- A NCERx 4,000-person survey found that only 19% were diagnosed with a sleep disorder, yet 74% said they got less sleep than they needed. Forty-six percent said they missed what they needed by at least three hours!4
But wait — it gets much worse than just feeling worn out.
Short-Term Consequences of Sleep Loss
Lack of sleep has dramatic affects on your health and quality of life.
If you lose one night’s sleep, you’ll be irritable and clumsy the next day. You either feel exhausted, or you feel hyped because you’re running on adrenalin (and caffeine, no doubt).
After a second night’s sleep loss, most people have trouble concentrating and will make mistakes on routine tasks. Three missed nights, and they start to hallucinate and lose grasp of reality.
If you get just a few hours of sleep each night, over time you incur a large ‘sleep debt’ — and you start to see the above problems, not by losing a whole night at once but by cumulatively losing a little sleep EVERY night.
You can feel the short-term consequences of sleep loss right away. They’re obvious. But it’s the long term impact on your health that can be super devastating (beyond the obvious risks of drowsy driving and workplace accidents).
Hidden Long-Term Risks of Sleep Debt
As if the above costs aren’t enough, new studies show that chronic sleep deprivation is one of the biggest predictors of obesity.
Your quality and quantity of sleep dictates the hormonal activity that regulates appetite — via leptin and ghrelin. Sleep deprivation causes your leptin levels to drop and ghrelin to rise dramatically. Leptin signals ‘fullness’ so if it’s disrupted, you end up craving food — especially carbs. Ghrelin sets off your hunger pangs.
I think it’s fascinating that sleep correlates with the other bad habits that are killing millions.
In a national study of nearly 10,000 adults, 32-49 year-olds who sleep less than 7 hours were significantly more likely to be obese.5
Another study of 18,000 adults found that those who regularly sleep less than four hours per night were 73% more likely to suffer from obesity.6
So… Those who sleep the least weigh the most? Who would have thought losing weight was so easy you could do it in your sleep?
Too little sleep also causes decreased immune function. Sleep deprivation adversely affects your white blood cell count and your body’s ability to fight infections. It makes your immune system vulnerable and less able to fight off potentially cancerous cells.
And then comes the real biggie…
Sleep Deprivation Can Cause Cancer
New studies suggest that how you sleep may determine how well your body fights cancer.
In fact, working the graveyard shift may increase your cancer risk.
Recent studies indeed show that women who worked nights for years seem more prone to breast cancer. And men who work the night shift have higher rates of prostate cancer.7
When animals have their light-dark schedules reversed, they’re more likely to grow cancerous tumors and they die more quickly.8
Several reports from the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study link insufficient or irregular sleep to an increase in colon cancer and breast cancer.
How Does Insufficient Sleep Impact Cancer?
Sleep problems affect two hormones that influence cancer cells.
Cortisol regulates your immune system and releases certain natural killer cells that help fight developing cancer cells. Cortisol levels peak at dawn, suggesting sleep’s role. (This is the same stress hormone triggered during anxiety.)
The second hormone is melatonin, produced by your brain during sleep. Scientists think it may have antioxidant properties that help prevent cellular damage leading to cancer.
Melatonin can only be released in total darkness, and may cause a reduction in estrogen production. Researchers speculate that experiencing light late at night may interfere with melatonin release, allowing estrogen to rise, and promoting the growth of breast and endometrial cancers.
I read this notion years ago. Since then — for what it’s worth — I avoid turning on the lights if I have to get up in the night. It may help avoid a disruption in melatonin production, and I can say this for sure: it makes it easier to get back to sleep. Nothing wakes me up like a bright glare of light when I’ve been deeply asleep and my pupils are dilated as big as saucers. If you can’t feel your way around in the dark, the next best thing is using a small nightlight.
Melatonin is also the prime suspect in the ‘shift work theory’. People working in artificial light at night may have lower melatonin levels, raising cancer risk.
Further, certain processes like cell division and DNA repair happen at regular times. If your body does something at an unusual time — like produce insulin in the middle of the night to digest food — a chain reaction of biological mistakes is set up.
Potentially even worse than the graveyard shift is flipping between night and day shifts. Also at risk are frequent long-haul travelers and insomniacs, who experience similar sleep disruption.
You need a dark night’s sleep… eight pitch-black hours every night. So why don’t people get their eight hours?
Key Causes of Sleep Troubles…
Why is quality sleep becoming such a rarity?
In the NCERx survey cited above, 65% of respondents named stress as a major factor in insomnia. Closely following that, 53% said they felt work or school didn’t leave them enough time to sleep.
Ten Tips for Improving Your Sleep
- Reduce stress as much as possible. Don’t sweat the small stuff!
- Put some quiet space between your day and your night. Get to your room 20 minutes before bedtime, and relax with light reading, meditation, or quiet music, keeping the lights low and the atmosphere relaxing.
- Reserve your bedroom only for sleeping and sex. Get the TVs, computers, and other non-sleep items out of there.
- Complete exercise at least 3 hours before bedtime.
- Get sunshine every day. Your body needs the extremes of light and dark.
- Eat properly. Healthy people sleep better. Take your evening meal at least 2 hours before bedtime, preferably 3. Never overeat just before bedtime.
- Make your bedroom pitch-black, quiet, and cool. Use black-out curtains. Use ear plugs if there’s street noise or noise from other family members in nearby rooms. Run the AC if appropriate.
- Avoid stimulants within six to eight hours of bedtime… including all soda, coffee, tea, sports drinks, and aspirin. I’m convinced that caffeine has a more profound effect on people than they realize. They don’t know that it affects their wakefulness 12 hours or more after they drink it. And here’s a surprise: alcohol is not viewed as a stimulant, but it DOES interfere with sleep patterns.
- Set a regular bedtime and keep it on weekends also. If you can live without an alarm clock, do so. You’ll wake up when your body is rested.
- Try relaxation techniques… Counting sheep really works — you bore yourself to sleep. Or imagine yourself on a beach or in the warm sun.
You may be one of those people who have been sleepy for so very long you don’t know how it feels to be wide awake.
Let the world wait till tomorrow — not your sleep. It is a fundamental health need.
Once you truly start sleeping again, you’ll love the joy of sleep’s restoration and rejuvenation, and the energy you’ll have — not to mention its cancer-protective benefits.
By the way, what kind of mattress do you sleep on? It could be a matter of life and death, because it turns out mattresses these days are manufactured with a lot of unhealthy chemicals. If you’d like to know more, scroll down and read the next article.
Monsters aren’t Under Your Bed —
They’re In It
If you’ve been wondering why you can’t sleep well or feel bad in the morning for no reason, the trouble might not be with your sleep. It might be what you’re sleeping on.
The advertising for most mattresses makes you think of comfortable sleep, softness, and relaxation. But a cocktail of chemicals lurks deep within the mattress you sleep on. Keep reading and take these steps to protect yourself…
Continued below. . .
The Biggest Medical Revolution Ever?
This new shift in emphasis is certainly one of the most far-reaching changes in scientific medical opinion since the development of the germ theory of infections. It engenders a whole new way at looking at how most diseases occur, how genes work and the importance of inflammation in our defences and in the process of aging.
The microbes in our gut together encode up to about 10 million genes between them. These genes affect the way our body obtains and uses nutrients, detoxes chemicals, deals with food, breaks down polysaccharides, metabolizes hormones and scores of other functions.
There, you missed it, didn’t you? I just described the most amazing medical/biological discovery of all time; the one that is so stunning it’s hard to believe! Read the next part of this sentence slowly and carefully: bacterial and other microbial genes from our guts tell our bodies what to do, just like human genes do.
Get the full sensational story, starting from this page.
There’s antimony, which is a heavy metal similar to arsenic. You’ll also find boric acid, a potent roach killer. To those two you can add toxins like the known carcinogen silicon, along with melamine, formaldehyde, decabromodiphenyl oxide, and ammonium polyphosphate. Memory foam appears to be the worst offender. According to some of our sources, it has more toxins than mattresses made from other materials.
And there’s a good chance you absorb these chemicals into your body every night.
Aren’t you glad the government
is keeping you “safe”?
Most of the problem comes from state and federal flammability standards that require all mattresses to stand up to a severe open-flame test of 2,000 degrees for 70 seconds. This means acutely toxic chemicals, many of which are known to cause cancer, are in or next to the surface of all mattresses. Most mattresses made after 2007, when the latest legislation was passed, are loaded with high doses of flame-retardant chemicals.
Mattress manufacturers are just doing what the law makes them do. Yet they’re sly about the way they do it. When you buy a new mattress, you’ll never see a “Contents” list. It might say “Made in China” or “All New Materials.” But that’s about all you get. Believe it or not, this is legal. No labeling requirements exist for these chemicals, though many major mattress manufacturers have admitted to media outlets that these chemicals are in their mattresses.
When I looked into it, I read several reports that said things like “the mattress industry has determined that the chemicals used to create a flame retardant product are completely safe.” Well now. If that’s the case, why not disclose that list of chemicals to the public?
The Consumer Products Safety Commission boasts that flame-retardant chemicals in mattresses could save as many as 200 lives a year in bedding fires. I’m not impressed. In a nation of about 350 million people, that’s a tiny benefit, compared to the danger posed to all of us by the toxins.
They should analyze the risk of potentially poisoning millions, since those flame-proofing chemicals leach to the surface of our mattresses every night. That means we absorb them every night. Reports show you likely absorb .8 mg of deadly antimony and .08 mg of toxic boric acid every day. An accumulation of antimony in the body is known to be acutely cancer-causing.
That means you’re carrying around a lot of toxins in your body just so you can avoid the risk of a mattress fire (that risk is about one in 1.111 million).
How can you tell if your
toxic mattress is affecting you?
Caroline, a blogger from Minnesota, says her mattress sent her brain into a “toxic mess” for several weeks. Blurred vision, nausea, headache, and poor sleep quality are the most common symptoms people report.
But depending on your level of chemical sensitivity, you may not experience these effects until a few weeks — or even a few years — after you begin sleeping on a chemical-filled bed. Symptoms can also include lack of energy, dizziness, muscle aches, and confusion.
The worst reports link mattress chemicals to asthma, skin issues, fertility problems, hair loss, neurological concerns, and cancer.
Workers in some mattress factories are complaining of early signs of illness. That should be a warning to the rest of us. But consider it took nearly two generations of asbestos-related illnesses and deaths before anything was done.
The greater problem though is that if someone experiences these symptoms, or even if they’ve had them for years … they probably don’t think of blaming their mattress.
How to reduce your risk of chemical absorption
At least there are a few things you can do about the problem. Start by smelling your mattress. If it still has a “new” smell, chances are tons of chemicals are leaching into the air and into your body. It’s called off-gassing (sometimes “out-gassing”). There are a couple ways to lower your risk of absorbing these toxins:
- Get a low-density, food-grade polyethylene cover. It’s a safe plastic with waterproofing ability. Unlike vinyl, low-density polyethylene doesn’t release dioxins and other toxic chemicals (at least that’s what our sources indicate).Some people report success from wrapping their beds in sheets of polyethylene found at home improvement stores, but it makes for a noisy mattress, and you have to be careful to get the right thickness — at least 5 millimeters of clear, pure polyethylene. Sleeping on plastic isn’t the most comfortable or breathable experience, so an organic cotton mattress pad on top is essential.
- Don’t assume a dust mite barrier blocks toxins. Though they protect you from dust mites and other allergens, they’re not enough to protect you from toxic chemicals and gases.
- Because toxic gases are heavier than air, they can only rise about an inch or two above the mattress. Consider buying a 3-inch organic topper for your bed that boosts you above the surface of the original mattress.
- Vacuum often, and make sure you use a HEPA filter. Also, use a wet mop to reduce dust, which may be a hotbed of toxins that migrated from your bed.
- Wash your hands frequently. Hand-to-mouth contact is one of the biggest sources for exposure to flame retardants.
If you want to replace your current mattress, I don’t advocate buying from a standard bedding store. But if you do, good ventilation is essential for off-gassing a new mattress. Some people report leaving new mattresses in the garage for up to two weeks to get rid of the smell. This certainly helps with the smell, but it won’t completely rid your mattress of toxins. Others jump on the bed to push toxins up and out of the mattress (but where do those toxins go? Up into the air you breathe? This one has me scratching my head. I don’t see that it can do much good).
If the only concern is off-gassing, a mattress that’s several months or years old is better than any new one you can buy. A used mattress or one from a second-hand store will release fewer gases. Any mattress made before 2007 is better in this regard. But again, this “solution” leaves me wondering, because a used mattress can be pretty filthy.
Perhaps a used mattress from a friend or relative with VERY good hygiene is worth considering. Another option is to look for brands certified by GreenGuard Environmental Institute.
Your best option is a natural or organic hand-made mattress. But I have to introduce another note of caution here: natural latex mattresses are often sold as allergen-free, but many people have a bad reaction to latex. I found out I was one of them, and my very expensive, all-natural latex mattress is now in the guest bedroom. I was unable to sleep on it.
Here are some other tips:
- Shop with the eye of a skeptic. Some new mattresses marketed as natural aren’t the real deal. Manufacturers make this claim because they replace up to 15% of the petroleum base with soy or cedar oil. But that still leaves you with petroleum as a major component in the mattress.
- Consider an organic mattress with wool fiber because of the natural fire retardant properties in wool. Just make sure to look for something with pure wool; some companies use chemically-treated wool to boost fire resistance.
- Be wary about buying an “organic” mattress. Organic doesn’t mean non-toxic in the world of bedding. The organic component may be cotton filling or surface padding. But if there’s a vinyl covering present, there’s a good chance chemical fire retardants are there.
- Buy locally when possible. A local craftsman may be able to create a toxin-free mattress for you. Amish craftsmen are particularly good at this, I’ve heard.
You can also purchase a natural memory foam mattress from Essentia, a company that was founded after a family member was diagnosed with cancer. Those beds are biodegradable and said to last 25 years.
Essentia makes its mattresses n Canada, so they aren’t subject to the same flame retardant laws as in the U.S. The company states, “… We only use mattress components that are either certified organic or confirmed VOC free. We use a Kevlar fabric which is one of the very few VOC-free fire retardants on the market.” And if you dislike the idea of any flame retardant at all, including their nontoxic option, you can send them a doctor’s note to get a mattress without the Kevlar fabric.
Before you shop, it may be worth a try to contact the manufacturer of your current mattress and insist on a full list of materials. Some will give it to you, some won’t.
What to do if you’ve been sleeping
on a toxic mattress
But that begs the question … what about other mattresses? What about going on vacation and sleeping on a hotel mattress? Or even staying at a friend’s house? The only solution I can give you is to do a regular detox. Use an infrared sauna. Take a hot Epsom salt bath, or a clay bath, and sweat as much as you can.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to get off the grid in terms of toxins. We all have them in our bodies. They’ve even found traces of man-made toxins in polar bears up near the North Pole. So the best you can do is to lessen your risk, especially since you spend so much of your life sleeping. But after you’ve done what you can, let go of the worry that comes from knowing about these toxins. Worrying can be toxic, too.
Lee Euler, Publisher