SIZE MATTERS- Sleep, Longevity and Telomere Length

Size matters. 
That old quip has been used, misused and abused. But when it comes to the size 
of your telomeres, nothing could be more important to you. The length of your 
telomeres can determine how long and how well you will live. 
Longevity and Quality of Life.

Telomeres are little protective caps at the ends of your chromosomes. They are 
likened to the aglets at the ends of your shoe laces, protecting your laces from 
  5-1-14 TELOMERE 1In the journal Sleep, January issue, there are several studies relating sleep to 
telomere length (TL). 
One study shows the connection of sleep to longevity. The evidence is piling 
up that the aging process may be accelerated by not getting enough 
quality sleep.
"Telomeres are the DNA-protein structures located like caps at the ends of chromosomes. 
They shorten with aging and may also be a marker of biological, not chronological, aging. 
They are believed to be involved in protecting the chromosome  from inflammation and various 
stressors. In some studies, their diminishing length has been associated with 
diabetes and atherosclerosis."

The study demonstrated that poor sleepers, as defined by poor sleep quality or short duration 
(less than 7 hours per night), had significantly shorter telomere length. Even more interesting 
was the finding that in the older adults, adequate sleep was associated with telomere lengths 
comparable to middle-aged adults. The authors concluded that the study provides evidence that 
sleep is linked to cellular aging.
With Sleep Apnea, you are starving your body of oxygen and are being jarred closer to consciousness at least 6 times an hour. With normal regenerative sleep, you should
be enjoying a heightened anabolic (building up and restoring) state, with growth and rejuvenation of the immune, nervous, skeletal and muscular systems. The dozens of near-awakenings keep the Sleep Apnea sufferer in a vigilant and catabolic (breaking down and using up) state that should be reserved for the on-the-go, waking hours.
The telomere shortening mechanism normally limits cells to a fixed number of divisions, and animal studies suggest that this is responsible for aging on the cellular level and sets a limit on lifespans. 
We know that telomeres shorten with biological aging. We also know that they 
shorten in response to chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. In fact, even 
the telomeres of newborns exposed to physiological stressors in utero have 
been found to be shorter. We also have learned that the shortening of telomeres 
can result in increased susceptibility to tissue damage, including cancer.

 Telomeres protect chromosome ends from being mistaken for broken pieces of 
DNA that would otherwise be fixed by cellular repair .  When the telomeres get 
short enough, our cells no longer divide and our body stops making those cells. 
Over time, this leads to aging and death.
5-1-14 TELOMERE 2               Magnification of Chromosomes showing Telomeres
It is becoming increasingly obvious that not getting enough quality sleep will cause systemic destruction and may accelerate the aging process.
What is “enough quality sleep”? Stay tuned in.
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