Sleep deprivation is becoming all too common in today’s society. Difficulty going to sleep, staying asleep and even hearing from some my schedule does not allow for that much sleep. Most recent statistics show that about 40% of Americans get less than seven hours of sleep at night which are the current recommendations. Individuals age 65 and older report the most sleep while people ages 18-29 get almost 50% less than the required amount. So why does the younger generation get less sleep?

Fatigue is a common complaint of individuals with insomnia but research shows that lack of sleep can lead to health conditions such as depression, arthritis, asthma and diabetes. More recent studies have shown that there may be a connection between limited sleep leading to increased oxidative stress which in turn affects our mitochondria as a possible target of sleep deprivation. Mitochondria the cellular source of energy production play an important role in how our cells metabolize energy.  When our body is affected by stress including lack of sleep it affects the mitochondria biology.  Recent research shows that the role of our mitochondria can be both a target of stress and as a mediator of stress physiology.

Over the years a growing body of evidence has emerged suggesting that energy metabolism and cellular antioxidant mechanisms defending against oxidative damage are coordinated by the circadian clock, the mechanisms that keeps bodies attuned to the day/night cycle. In 2018 a study looking at human fibroblasts and mice established a link between circadian control of mitochondrial morphology and oxidative metabolism. This could have implications with respect to impairment in circadian clock and or mitochondrial function.  Fluctuations in our circadian rhythms might even be a key initiating factor for diseases linked to compromised mitochondrial function, including neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease.

So as we approach our last month of summer, vacationing prior to the beginning of another school year, take a close look at your sleep cycle and also of your children. Even on vacation be sure to try to get your adequate “Z’s”. When starting the school year it becomes important to sleep well to recharge our mitochondria to be physically and mentally well.