One All-Nighter Can Mess Up Your Genes, So Here Are 5 Tips That Will Help You Go To Bed Already
There are a lot of reasons to go to bed early, but the results of a new study might give us the most compelling one yet: Researchers have found that missing sleep for one night can alter your genes by ruining your circadian rhythm and slowing down your metabolism — which, in turn, might lead to obesity and diabetes later on down the road. Maybe instead of starting that research paper the night before it's due, it might be worth getting in done ahead of time — and not just for the grade.
In order to figure this out, the researchers focused on what are called the human "clock" genes, which basically act like tiny clocks to contribute to a rhythm and synchronize our internal master clock. These "clock" genes control how our tissues work, doing things like regulating the on off processes of our metabolism. Researchers from Uppsala University and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have found that when you don't sleep, these genes affect your circadian rhythm, causing misalignment. This misalignment then throws off the processes your body undergoes during sleep, like metabolizing your food and repairing itself, and, well... you get where this is going, right?
The study lasted for two nights. The first night, the participants — 15 men — were allowed to familiarize themselves with the lab environment in which they would be sleeping (it can be tough to get a full night's shut-eye when you're sleeping somewhere other than your own bed). On the second night, they were divided into two groups: One group which stayed up all night, and one that got a full night's sleep.
After the second day, the researchers took fat and blood samples from the participants in both groups and found extreme differences in their metabolisms. The group that was sleep deprived showed impaired glucose tolerance in their genes, while the other group was just fine. The researchers concluded that just one night of sleeplessness altered the core DNA profile of circadian clock genes, although they're not sure how long these changes last: "It could be that these changes are reset after one or several nights of good sleep," they said according to Metro.
The moral of the story is: Get enough sleep. If you're someone who has trouble sleeping, doesn't get enough sleep, or pulls frequent all-nighters, here are five tips to help you get to bed faster:
1. Stick Your Feet Out Your Blanket
When it's time for bed, your body naturally starts to cool down to make your mind less alert. This surprising sleep hack works because sticking your feet outside your blanket helps your body cool down, and essentially tricks it into falling asleep.
2. Try The 4-7-8 Sleep Hack
The 4-7-8 sleep hack has you breathe in for counts of four, seven, and eight, which acts as a natural tranquilizer and allows your brain and lungs to fill up with oxygen. This oxygen will reduce stress and catalyze a relaxing sleep.
3. Read For Just Six Minutes
Reading for just six minutes before bed helps you relax and reduce stress, takes your mind off your current problems and keeps it from wandering — all of which will help you actually asleep.
This technique is actually similar to the "feet out of the blanket." If you take a warm bath at night, by the time you get to bed, your body will have cooled down, sending a signal to your brain that it's time for sleep.
5. Don't Use Your Bed For Anything But Sleeping
Reading is OK, but leave the computer and smart phone on your desk. Try not to even do little to-do tasks on your bed during the day like sending e-mails or finding a present online for your friend. Keep the bed a sanctuary for sleep. And sex. Sex is OK, too.