Women working the night shift are four times more vulnerable to breast cancer because of a disruption in their internal physiology – or circadian clocks. This discovery was made by Professor Paolo Sassone-Corsi and his team from the University of California, Irvine. He spoke at the sidelines of the inaugural Euro Gold Singapore 2009, a symposium which brought together 12 eminent scientists from around the world in early May.
“Everybody has their own 24-hour internal clock. It determines the time at which you go to sleep at night, when you decide to eat during the day and even when you may decide to go for a run.”
These internal clocks are made up of molecules that regulate a number of activities, including the metabolic rate. Disrupting these clocks can cause disturbances that lead to obesity, neurological disorders, depression, insomnia and even cancer.
An earlier study established that women on rotating shifts were 79 per cent more likely to develop breast cancer, as they produced lower levels of melatonin, a hormone as well as a powerful antioxidant produced during sleep which provides protection against the disease. Melatonin is also an immune system regulator, anti-aging agent and anti-depressant. Sleeping at erratic times, going to bed too late, and sleeping in environments which are not conducive for a good night’s sleep (too noisy or too bright, for instance) disrupts the production of melatonin. Bright light can even stop the production of melatonin completely.
No animal or even machine is designed to go without rest. The Bible tells us that even God rested after six days of working on creation. If you watch animals, they spend most of their time resting. Humans, however, are prone to pushing themselves, partying till late, burning the midnight oil and skipping sleep.
Doctors sometimes induce coma in patients to aid healing and recovery. This may seem bizarre, but coma is a deep form of sleep and rest.
Don’t compromise on sleep. Give it priority. Try to get to bed at a reasonable time every night (10 a.m. is a good time). Create a conducive environment for a peaceful, restful sleep. Turn off the TV. Close the curtains or shades. Switch off the lights. Make sure your room is in complete darkness. Don’t let worry disturb your mind and spirit. For me, praying and casting my cares on Jesus really helps (1 Peter 5:7). I often play soothing Christian music as well before I sleep, as it comforts me.
Getting sufficient quality sleep is vital, because it gives me the strength, energy and clarity of mind I need to face the day. When I don’t get enough rejuvenating sleep, it affects my ability to function well, as well as my mood.
Good night, and sweet dreams.