You have all heard that it’s healthy to get 8 hours of sleep a day. Now you have another reason to make sure that you don’t cheat the sleep fairy. A good nights sleep well may help to protect men from deadly prostate cancer.
Scientists linked higher levels of the night-time hormone melatonin with a 75 per cent reduced risk of advanced disease.
Melatonin is produced in the dark at night. It plays a key role in regulating the body’s sleep-wake cycle and influences many other functions associated with the body’s 24-hour clock, or circadian rhythm.
Low levels of the hormone are typically associated with disrupted sleep. Men who reported taking medication for sleep problems, and difficulty falling and staying asleep, had significantly lower amounts of the melatonin marker.
Men whose melatonin marker levels were higher than the middle of the range were 75 per cent less likely to develop advanced prostate cancer than those with lower values.
Here are some suggestions for good sleep hygiene and getting a good nights sleep without resorting to medication:
Avoid napping during the day; it can disturb the normal pattern of sleep and wakefulness.
Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol too close to bedtime. While alcohol is well known to speed the onset of sleep, it disrupts sleep in the second half as the body begins to metabolize the alcohol, causing arousal.
Exercise can promote good sleep. Vigorous exercise should be taken in the morning or late afternoon. A relaxing exercise, like yoga, can be done before bed to help initiate a restful night’s sleep.
Food can be disruptive right before sleep; stay away from large meals close to bedtime. Also dietary changes can cause sleep problems, if someone is struggling with a sleep problem, it’s not a good time to start experimenting with spicy dishes. And, remember, chocolate has caffeine.
Ensure adequate exposure to natural light. This is particularly important for older people who may not venture outside as frequently as children and adults. Light exposure helps maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
Establish a regular relaxing bedtime routine. Try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before trying to go to sleep. Don’t dwell on, or bring your problems to bed.
Associate your bed with sleep. It’s not a good idea to use your bed to watch TV, listen to the radio, or read.
Make sure that the sleep environment is pleasant and relaxing. The bed should be comfortable, the room should not be too hot or cold, or too bright.
Bottom Line: We do know that advanced age, family history of prostate cancer, and African American men have a greater risk of prostate cancer. Add to this list, disrupted sleep, lack of sleep, or sleep deficit can also be added to risk factors associated with prostate cancer. Make sure you get a good nights sleep and you may reduce your risk of prostate cancer. As my wonderful Jewish mother might say, “It may not help, but it voidn’t hoit!”