There has been much research into the fact that genes are turned off and on throughout our life, some that can only be turned on through a stage of development and some that can go on and off throughout life.
This article explores the genes that can be turned on with more sleep.
How much can an extra hour’s sleep change you? BBC.co.uk – You can follow the Magazine on Twitter and on Facebook
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The average Briton gets six-and-a-half hours’ sleep a night, according to the Sleep Council. Michael Mosley took part in an unusual experiment to see if this is enough. ”
It has been known for some time that the amount of sleep people get has, on average, declined over the years.
This has happened for a whole range of reasons, not least because we live in a culture where people are encouraged to think of sleep as a luxury – something you can easily cut back on. After all, that’s what caffeine is for – to jolt you back into life. But while the average amount of sleep we are getting has fallen, rates of obesity and diabetes have soared. Could the two be connected? Dr Simon Archer and his team at Surrey University were particularly interested in looking at the genes that were switched on or off in our volunteers by changes in the amount that we had made them sleep.
“We found that overall there were around 500 genes that were affected,” Archer explained. “Some which were going up, and some which were going down.”
What they discovered is that when the volunteers cut back from seven-and-a-half to six-and-a-half hours’ sleep a night, genes that are associated with processes like inflammation, immune response and response to stress became more active. The team also saw increases in the activity of genes associated with diabetes and risk of cancer. The reverse happened when the volunteers added an hour of sleep.
So the clear message from this experiment was that if you are getting less than seven hours’ sleep a night and can alter your sleep habits, even just a little bit, it could make you healthier. “Have a lie-in, it will do you good” – that’s the kind of health message that doesn’t come along very often.
Read the full article… How much can an extra hour’s sleep change you? from BBC’s News Magazine.