Party Like a Rock Star?

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on Mar 21, 2011 in , , | No Comments

Being a rock star has advantages. But what about partying like one?

Most college students like to go out on weekends, keeping late hours. How does staying out late affect your overall health?

In the journal Sleep, they reported a new study found outgoing people who stayed out late, and skimped on sleep, performed worse on cognitive tests, compared with equally sleepy introverts. “The extra brain activity involved in socializing may be the reason for this difference”, says Tracy Rupp, Ph.D., the author of the study.

There’s more to decreased cognitive function than increased socialization. Party-hearty types often drink alcohol, and some use drugs, both interfere with normal brain function, sleep patterns and more.

How Many Z’s?

Other studies have shown the average college student needs more than 8 hours of sleep per night, but most get much less. And don’t think you can make up a deficit by sleeping in on Sunday, it doesn’t work that way. Making withdrawals from your “sleep bank” on a regular basis will affect you for quite a while, you’ll need to get back into a nightly routine of regular sleep. It’s suggested that going to bed by 10, and getting at least 7-8 hours of restful sleep each night is the best solution.

How do you know when you aren’t getting enough restful sleep? If you require something to jolt you awake each morning, there’s a good chance you are sleep deprived. And while I’m on the subject of restful sleep, it’s also been found alcohol, and some drugs, interfere with normal sleep patterns, leaving you feeling tired, no matter how many hours you’ve been horizontal.

It’s also been discovered that changing the brain’s natural rhythm might bring on symptoms of anxiety and depression. Add to that, alcohol and some drugs are depressives, compounding symptoms. Basically, depriving yourself of sleep, then introducing alcohol and drugs into your already taxed system, can produce nasty unwanted results.

Disturbing Research

In Laura Beil’s article, Lights Out, she points out that recent studies have found links between weight gain, addiction, and cancer with late nights. Beil states, “One reason may be that late hours starve the body of melatonin, a hormone the brain produces only in darkness.”

David Blask, MD, Ph.D., head of chrono-neuroendocrine oncology at Tulane University School of Medicine, has shown in his experiments on breast cancer that melatonin is a big cancer preventer. Take away the natural production of melatonin in your body by not getting enough sleep, and you could produce an opportunity for cancer to proliferate.

Studies found the heart beats to circadian rhythm, and according to Martin Young, Ph.D, cardiovascular scientist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, “…when your natural rhythm is off, that process [of the heart preparing for waking] doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to, which means waking comes as more of a shock to your system.”

Alan Rosenwasser, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of Maine in Orono, believes the brain has a natural rhythm too, any changes upsets this rhythm which can cause anxiety, cognitive decline and depression. He has also found evidence of addiction cravings increasing when the day-night cycle in disturbed.

Simple Tips

Ms. Beil offers several tips to help reset your body clock:

  • By staying up late, you throw your body off schedule. Keep your days from bleeding into your nights.
  • Turn off florescent lights, use incandescent instead in the evening. Lower your computer’s brightness setting too.
  • Don’t watch T.V. in the bedroom before sleep.
  • Reading in dim light before sleep is less disruptive than the bright light of a T.V.
  • Don’t turn on bright lights if you get up in the middle of the night, use a nightlight in the bathroom instead.
  • Eat breakfast, it signals to your body it’s a new day.
  • Catch some rays, either sit in a sunny window or take a walk outside daily.

And monitor alcohol consumption, and refrain from recreational drug use. See if any over-the-counter medications, or prescribed medications you are currently taking interfere with sleep. Check with your doctor, another medication that doesn’t prevent restful sleep might be prescribed instead.

Being a rock star has advantages. Partying like one, (according to the above experts), seems to have too many disadvantages.