A recent study out of the United Kingdom's University of Surrey has discovered that extended lack of sleep leads to a very definite change in our genetic coding.  "First Lady of Sleep," Cindy Bressler takes a look at the study, which goes so far as to say, "lack of sleep can be deadly,"  but never fear, Bedtime Network is here....

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It was barely 6:45am when TODAY in New York co-anchor Darlene Rodriguez announced that based on the findings of a recent study she should have been dead three years ago.  Three years ago!  Where did she come up with that?


Having managed to get fewer than four hours sleep myself last night (searching my house high and low for a small , lost jewelry box until the wee hours of the morning and then waking up at 4:30am to drive my daughter to the airport) and given the fact that I am, after all, one of the “First Ladies of Sleep,” I immediately looked up from my second cup (might have been third cup!) of green tea.  I needed to know more.  Ms. Rodriguez didn’t offer any details about the study but acknowledged that she is most certainly sleep-deprived.  Not surprising since her show airs weekday mornings from 4:30am to 7:00am.


Here’s what I found:  The study to which Ms. Rodriguez referred was conducted in the U.K. at The University of Surrey.  University researchers analyzed the blood of 26 people after they had plenty of sleep, up to ten hours each night for a week, and compared the results with blood samples taken after a week of fewer than six hours a night. 


The authors of the study found that even only moderate sleep loss – 5.7 hours of sleep per 24 hours for a week versus 8.5 hours -- led to changes in gene patterns.  The number of genes affected by total sleep deprivation was seven times higher after a week of insufficient sleep compared with sufficient sleep.  According to the study, people who get a poor night’s rest for as little as a week can dramatically change the function of hundreds of crucial genes that control the internal workings of the human body.


Researcher Professor Derk-Jan Dijk, who heads up a sleep and physiology unit at the University, describes sleep as a “pillar of health” - - just like diet and exercise. This serves as further support for the importance of creating a bedtime ritual.


P.S.  Just in case you are wondering, I am still looking for my jewelry box and due to mechanical difficulties my daughter is still traveling and is several hours away from her destination.  It’s been a very long day for both of us and it’s not even 2 pm.  Hopefully, my nightly bedtime ritual of a warm shower with Dr. Bronner’s lavender soap and Nature’s Alchemy essential oil lavender drops followed by Bedtime Beats will bring about a restful sleep this evening.