'Motivated' podcast: What happens to your body with too little sleep

ABC News' Dan Childs discusses how your body and mind are affected by sleep deprivation and why a good night's rest is key to a healthy lifestyle.
28:30 | 10/09/17

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Transcript for 'Motivated' podcast: What happens to your body with too little sleep
Three this afternoon to talk about all things sleep as the topic a lot of people are interested I'm very interested in it and we're here with Dan Childs. The managing editor of ABC is as medical unit. But more importantly someone who has been awake for her. Fifty hours. Does that you know it's it was fifty hours straight. Let's talking about that because that's let me you know you're staff we we we work with would work together a lot. A medical things in your only to god we go to unit you know confirm information or check researcher give us new information. But the reason I want is talking about this topic was because you have lived this in a wave it's very and usual. While you up for fifty hours. Well it's is wanting to read about all the studies have new sleet are and they said they entirely different thing to actually give it a shot. And there was you know we were doing that forty for forty. GMA live stream it gave perfect opportunity to do something. Selling crazy like this that would also be sort of enlightening. Fortunately I was able to work with mount Sinai they took a since their sleep lab. I ended up staying up a total of fifty hours the first ten hours were off cam and then a forty hour live stream. On top of that. Com so when you're in their sleep lab what was the purpose of that to so that they can monitor you Wear a day giving humane guidance and assistance what was the purpose of that. Oral it was is a dual purpose number one idol artist to do all sorts of tax stake hooked me up with electrodes that electoral all over my head. And they were able to measure my brain waves and to see if I entered. A state called a micro sleep where basically your brain kinda goes to sleep without you really knowing about it. Armed they were able to do other Tess is while the other reason that they did notice. And our legal and standards department was very particular about this is that they wanted to make sure. That I was safe through the entire through the entire ordeal so at any given time there's a producer and a doctor with me. In they were able to monitor be because one of the biggest problems with acute sleep deprivation which is what I was going through. Is that you are more prone to be involved in accidents falls. You know crossing the road in getting hit by something because your attention is so drastically affected. By this lack of sleep. They want you walking around the world in this kind of dazed state and and maybe getting hurt which is so telling because people drive when their extremely sleepy people go to work. When extreme asleep because it's not really considered an impaired state. Though the longest I've ever been out was 32 hours straight while I was four I was working on a story. And I remember when my head hit the pillow it was like I fell into a black hole right I fell asleep instantly. And woke up. With seemed like a moment later but with hours and hours later so what was the experience of being up. That long like for you were you feeling drunk were you feeling irritable we feeling giddy what was it like. Oh I think has cycled at one point or another through all of those things I but I think one of the one of the scariest things and this is kinda stuck with me. Was the idea that for a large part of that time. I wasn't feeling really any differently. And I was thinking about oh well yeah I could do this I could do that to wrap how many hours and we're used to feeling normal. Arm I was feeling normal probably upland who'll. If I AIX I had gone up about 6 o'clock 1 morning up until about 3 o'clock the next today. And then something hit me like a ton of bricks that I got a second win. In in the spaces in between in the second wins I I really and this is the big problem that acute sleep decoration is that. People don't realize how impaired they are so how impaired were you had you known now in hindsight that when you were feeling fine you really work. Or some research suggests that staying up that long can actually be. Equivalent to a point one blood alcohol content. On so you're talking about over the legal limit for driving com. I lay out what they were doing with me is that they were doing constant cognitive assessments I have to take these little tests and they'd figure out how quick my reaction speed. How clearly I was thinking. And you could see as it progressed as the project progressed. I was getting less and less able to perform well on those tech that you felt OK all I felt great well a lot of the time. And add back about the next morning I thought interest. Horrible just does that dead sort of you just wanted to just deep horizontal and and you just wanted it and and how were you able to stay away because your body is willing you to sleep. Armed it was OK so there's a game just dance. And so there was a lot of just dance and I am not a great dancer my life will be the first one to tell you that. But basically anything that. People could think. To keep me awake we did so in between those mental tests. I was engaged in in other things I was doing little but work I was interacting with people via social media. Arm bullet what I found was that very quickly. I am actually I actually went into this thinking that I could do my regular job I had my laptop was all set up and act in right Astoria can do all this I can do all that. Arm probably about twelve to fourteen hours in. I became amazing weekly that that was not functioning on the level that I normally would. Arm but you wouldn't necessarily know that if you were doing is say for example fewer. If you are driving a truck if you're flying a plane if you are working on whatever it is you're working on late into the night you wouldn't necessarily know that. Potentially until it's too late so what was the worst part of it free the most difficult. I think it was probably towards the yen and there was this sense that okay this this is where in the homestretch now. And every minute seemed to stretch for an hour and we are waiting to go to the studio there was nothing really to do Nam and it was. That was that was one of the pack parts the other went. Was when they want to assess micro sleep now I had been awake for about thirty hours at this. Did the technician came in and they. There was a Murphy bed that was in the wall they pull that down and they said OK lay down its elegant and torturous but don't sleep they said okay we're gonna turn out the lights how much god close your allies. But don't fall asleep. And so they turn out that I been laughable I closed my eyes I was doing it mental gymnastics to try and falls week. A but that was when they measured the micro sleep and basically it's that point at which no matter what you do no matter how you tried to tell your brain stay awake stay awake stay awake. It cuts out. And you start going in the brain waves will actually reflect that your brain certain parts here brain are shutting off. And aid and essentially. Trying to get that sleet that the year denying that at times painful sleep deprivation if somebody needed secret information. I think defamation league way to get a you deprive means they don't tell you things even now a is so so then you we're able to go to sleep obviously what what was that like how long did it take you to recover how long did you sleep where youths are being. Well I win I went back home on a Thursday morning as about it was about 10 AM or so. I don't really remember everything about getting home I remember I was in maneuver but then I went upstairs. And fell probably asleep I was asleep for about ten hours at woke up. Eight about half a chicken and then fell asleep for another ten hours so that first 24 hours I was home I was asleep for at least twenty it. Bomb that was also weekend. Yeah I was not the most interesting person to be around. He woke up hungry all I was starving. I was absolutely ravenous and what's really interesting is that during the experiment itself that I like to eat healthy late I actually tracked him Akron nutrients it's is something that I like to be able to do. While I was doing swallows week apart chest felt he's eating Oxford for just chicken parmesan sanction. The pizza from trolley out which is just. Excellent and it was O with the armed. On he explained that there is some evidence that when you are sleep deprived. You start to crave these d.s these foods and there's been some resurgent on on that. Basically are are eating habits just go out the window whenever it whenever it comes to. Easily but this is great this is the perfect segue because you know this is a bring your experience really interesting but this is what brings us back to kind of why why does everybody care why should everybody care out sleep. And what you're describing. That you experience here craving on this kind of fatty car be comforting food while you are sleep deprived that is in my experience I might as well. And the days where I don't get a lot of sleep that's when I really want junk food I'm not sure if it's because I'm seeking comfort from an uncomfortable state. And or am seeking energy through cards and sugar which your body knows is that you know easiest way to get a quick boost. What do we know about the relationship between sleep and what you. Will what you mention is really important. Our psychology. Physiology when it comes to sleep deprivation there's so closely intertwined that sometimes it's very hard to tease apart. OK am I doing this because of a psychological reason or physiological reason. What we do know from the research is that when you are sleep deprived it actually messes with you hormone levels. Two particularly important hormones when it comes to appetite regulation leptin in grayling. Those levels get dissed her. And so we know that there's some sort of disruption that occurs and they're looking further incidents. But certainly. Good look at those two because what to those two hormones regularly. On basically it's dared their regular in your appetite. And when your. When you're looking at for example. Leptin net. That's hormone that tends to be it didn't links to decrease likely could seats if feed so. If your if you're messing with that then you might be removing one B in ambitions. In that you have when it comes to taking in he's calories. Arms so you can see how basically if those levels get disturbed you can often Anders situation where you're not making the same choices as you normally would your appetite is an. Is in the same as it normally would be and then you start to make these. And that's that's probably where the psychology comes into effect as well because you're going to be in a situation that's so unusual. That you might be. More inclined to give in to those impulse and also at a cure will. Power is weaker in and we all kind of become toddlers from really sleepy. And it's I now feel like Keating that's and eat vegetables aegis EU cave and Nikko for the stuff that you're really fighting against an databases anyway right Yang and you you actually see a lot of studies as well that com do you link they do links sleep deprivation with an increased risk of obesity. I know this could be for any number of reasons we know those are there's a link but we don't know if it's causing obesity or if there's some other relationship. Right and they're probably a lot of things at play obviously if you're a weak for longer you have more hours in which exit heat I mean you have to do something. And guy you know that fridge is just so close by correct but there could be other things at play as well it could have something to do with the hormone imbalances could have something to do with that. Sort of reduced. Reduce will power that that's sort of is situated that that interesting situation sleep deprivation provides so. Researchers are actually looking into all this because it's such a big problem. In today's society. Now what about in terms of our energy in him because that I found I've worked and over mansion for years as as almost everyone in news. And I would work out when I got off work in the morning. And I had terrible work apps they were so bad that I was wary I was gonna hurt myself. So how important is getting enough sleep to news. Supporting an exercise your right old aunt is here so far is pretty nixed. But what they have found in some studies that they don't on this is that sleep deprivation if you hit a certain point. It does tend to have an affect on your year. How much. And it effort you're able to exert maximal capacity. Arms so eat you could start to see that you wore. That your endurance is negatively affected by sleep separation they're they're still looking into this but definitely they field that. There is there's some impact it has on the on economic nervous system that makes makes it horror for you to actually. Exercise or exert physical activity in the same way that you normally would. I understand you know from from your point of view and from the medical communities by knew how important it is to have studies to support these observations of people have but for me that just in my personal experience. There's been no question that when I'm getting enough sleep. And eating lasts a making better food choices I'm working out more efficiently. And I'm getting a better work out you know I I have found it for me he can't separate sleep from a healthy lifestyle. Write it in terms of getting enough sleep. This badge of honor that a lot of people care when they don't sleep a lot. They can't brag about it like I I live on for hours asleep or sale of umpires asleep today conversely. He tells them when you get nine hours of Ciba David can be your lazy. And like ashes taken carrier children whose cleansing Gary house is working so. Are we getting enough sleep as as a society how much do we need and how do you know. How much unity. Will in general guidelines suggest people get between seven and eight hours a night now we know we know a lot I know anybody getting eight hours of sleep and tackling may be on vacation I mean there's there's no wind when there's very few people who are actually getting this and in fact there was a report from the CDC that suggested that about 30% of Americans. You get six or fewer averaged six or fewer hours per night of sleep. Arm and that's a huge problem that's like one in three people are who's who is essentially living with chronic sleep deprivation which is different from acute sleep deprivation so you know acute pain in my stamp a really long day today but for the most aren't getting enough sleep crying every night and acting and that's exactly how they affect you differently. Well accuse sleep deprivation you'll be dealing with those. A higher likelihood of having as little accidents are making those little mistakes your attention span will be narrowed. This is the situation where. A lot of people for example they'll get behind the wheel drive and and gnawed off at the wheel you see a lot of that with acute sleep deprivation. Chronic sleep deprivation wind when it keeps happen when year when your you when you constantly limit the amount of sleep that you get. That's linked to all kinds of deals diabetes. I think even certain cancers they've they've linked to that armed risk of early death now it's very hard to you necessarily tease apart. OK is it justice the chronically desperation that's leading to this or is there something else involved because we also know that. Those people who tend to chronically deprived themselves of sleep they might be doing other things that harm their health as well. But just the idea that these links exist that these relationships exist. That has been kinda clarion call to a lot of researchers in the field to say hate we need to take closer look at this and we need to see what kind of damage people are doing to themselves by never getting enough sleep. So how do you know how much sleep you reeling me like I know how much they buy me because kind of have tested it you know a play with it. And I know and act arrested and that and that sleepy during the day but that's me it's it's very individualized Howard they you know someone listening how how should they figure out how much sleep they really mean ultimately. It would be a situation where you would actually be able to tell just like you did. How we are able to function and what kind a little mistakes are making. If you happen to be sweet prod obviously it's a very individualized thing and and certain people might be able TU. Get away with certain amount sleep what's also interesting is that. People don't necessarily know. What the quality of their sleep it is or how much weaker actually get there's a big difference between getting to bed at a certain time and falling asleep at a certain. On the you know when we look at what quality sleep means their. There are many different stages of sleep from the REM suite here deep sleep we cycle through those all in and now. It seems to be very important that we actually get that and this is and on fragmented. Period of sweet that we get every night. To be able to deliver the benefits of sleep that help us get through the next day electric kind of see where you're really stressed about something and weary senior tossing and turning and waking up every two minutes looking at the clock that that's not as valuable eyes. The peaceful night's sleep right here who you're really not going to be able to wake up fresher body isn't going to be able to get the benefits that is supposed to get from that suite. And that could essentially lead to leads some real problems as to sleep researcher once and now from getting enough sleep and he said defense sleepy during the day. When when you when you would sit in a dark room enough I'll sleep. Unita and ethnic and before it's supposed to be on the subject that I'm so used to always you know being rated as not. Now speaking of nodding off naps so if you know I can't sleep at night. Can naps help bridge the gap or just have to be continuously well this brings up the whole concept of sleep debt if you think about your sleep your total sleep like a ledger and RU. Actually. Able to average say over a given week somewhere around that seven hours a sleep that you need. Arm and naps ten it's it's it's kinda tricky area because naps can potentially contribute to the amount a sweet that you get. However they can also lead to what's known as fragmented sleep the idea that if you Knapp a little bit now he won't sleep quite as long that night. And it really kind of throws you a little bit you're not going to be able to have that natural circadian rhythm that you're used to it's almost a jetlag he tight of affects that you'll get. So it might not be is restorative. Is what you would normally. That's sweet spot like some you have that map that you're describing re we Keppinger groggy it's just like you would have been better off having stayed awake. And so you wake up from an happened near you know you're ready to take on the world it it was did exactly the medicine that she needed. So how do you get the right kinda map that. It almost seems to be here miss and again it's a very individualized sort of thing. But I think the main thing about naps that's that's important for member. Is that you want to you want to make sure that you're not using them as a crutch that you're not using them to absolutely rely on making up sleep debt. Because it's never gonna work even if you plan it out. You're not necessarily. You know what's sometimes that Sosa let's say 49 hours asleep you're supposed to get 49 hours asleep in a week. Com if your strategy is CO OK wall cut myself short nine they'll take a nap. The chances that you're going to be able to a billion NetSuite debt. Are very very slim and went on the weekend can leave it can you binge sleep on the weekend you know sleep at ten hour and I haven't map. And and make up for bear yelled that's exactly what we're talking with the head of the mount Sinai sweet clinic at can you actually makeup but sleep debt. In theory in theory it is possible but in practice very very few of us say for example if we missed out on just. One hour of sleep every that's an extra seven now is that we would need to somehow cram into the weekend is very unlikely that we're going to be too and we're gonna be out parting we're ready. Celebrating in and watching a movie in you know trying to stay awake through that. It's did they easier way to do it is somehow. Building your schedule or build in the discipline to be able to to get as much sleep every night. So you minimize that sleep debt. And you're able to give your body needs. I am and in terms of you know building it and that that discipline yes I found that that was me you know my story and I lost a lot of weight and I found that that was part of getting enough sleep. Was the same kind of discipline that I needed to apply. As I did for going to the jam. For buying groceries for cooking healthy meals because it made such a huge difference. And everything else sleep was kind of the glue for me that held it all together. When I wasn't getting enough sleep everything else fell apart a little bit. A lot of trouble. Getting to sleep at night they want to finish the laundry they want to watch a movie and even working hard all day just on the couch for a few hours. Ketchup on FaceBook and emails. And kicking the us prioritize this Olympic will be fixing I think that's the. Keyword is prioritize and in traditionally traditionally we've never prioritized. Sleet especially in the in the culture in the lifestyles we lead. The vast majority of us it's we don't power to sack and prioritize sleep. As a health related thing as much as we do oh god exercise eat right. You'll about exercising you right you don't hear bunch about sleep until lately. Where people are pointing to this and they say okay yet this is kind of this is kind of lived the third leg on the stool he. And you need to be able to do that and and did that I think it's a you know did the approach is right to be able to essentially put that on par. With those other things but it does take disciplined because. There are so many things to do and there's so many excuses. Not to sleep gain a throats. Have. You know aides said there a you'd there's always laundry to do there's all of. Well I'd like I was the number one thing making people wait it's like an anonymous there is an army that the world is still spinning. And I don't want to go to bed right. And you're going to be missing out when you sleep which is actually one of the big. The big sort of funny things about the mystery sleep in general if you think about it if you think about the very idea that we have to sleep. The if you think about our cave man ancestors it puts us at risk. A perspective it seems very risky yeah isn't that an easy time for predators to. It's I. I'm for predators to pounce on you food could walk by you could be depriving yourself of that missed opportunity. So. Researchers for very long time have been trying to figure out OK why is it exactly that we do need sleep I do any dean enhanced. Arm there they're looking into the right ninths and interesting this past week in fact. There was this group this group of researchers that actually got the Nobel Prize for their research on circadian rhythms and in what they mean but there have been some other advances here's well. The current. Theory is that when you sleep. It's actually an opportunity for your brain to clear itself of the waste that build up during all the metabolism that needs to happen on there while you're going through your day to day activities and the idea that it lets all that. It lets all that go drain out through lymphatic system and then you're going to be like a literal waste like chemicals and you know it or re talking about like a fox that we don't need and then information that we all this would disputed by products of the metabolism of of the brain there's other things that are. Happening in terms of memory consolidation. In terms of all of those processes those neural processes that happen a brain. And those are happening at the same time. And d.s also. Remain largely mysterious bomb but its it's interesting to think of and in fact there was also some recent research that showed that this is something that. Goes way way back. Evolution annaly and there was this group of grad students who were essentially keeping jelly fish jelly fish don't even have. Brains as we think about brains but even they needed their sweep. Arms so the idea that everything sleeps. Sort of points CU appoints the importance of us. Getting our senator hours and he mentioned the cicada rhythms that. Prize that there was since departed and and in terms of that would apply to Whittier night personal papers is that part of this hurricane rhythm that's part of the arena and the whole body clock. Sort of thing and how that relates to our how this has to do with shift work and has to do with jet lag. These are things Beazer instances of where we where we routinely find people are deprived deprived of sleep. And so researchers are looking at this and they find that there are actually health implications of all of these types of activities so. If you aft after that the answer it's a real thing whether your morning person or night person like some people want me wanna be up until 4 in the morning and other people wanna be about it nine. Can you change that if you're a night person can you make you train yourself to become a morning person and vice Versa. Technical I think that has. A lot to do with the sketch eighties it be interesting to see it be and sing if they actually sat at experiment op and have to tried to get people to to switch over. Arm but but we know say for example when you jump on a plane and you go halfway around the world. You do re adjust to whatever that new normal snow might take Q a few days it might take you few days to get completely over. But we know that he ten sort of reset and and just. The big question is as you re setting as here adjusting. What kind of effect does that have if it happens over and over and over again are we stressing something in the body that could have big implications later on. Quality of the thing pictured I think as we talked about how important as our other any agreed upon strategies toward getting the best qualities I've heard. Electronics the room there's an optimal temperature. For sleeping when we know about getting the best well those are actually both great suggestions there's there's a whole sort of eerie so of of these suggestions that's known as sweet high G. And you're gonna hear a lot of people talking nicely I'd. And that's a by the wellness and where is does and it you know it's kind of funny sounds more complex than it actually is but a lot of the things are common sense don't. Don't each day they say that your bed is only supposed to be used to think in one of those asleep. And these are the other day if there appellation not watching tell it it's not checking your iPhone if not eating spirit can now know not supposed to be is so you should actually keep that space sort of sacred. Mostly for slow. Com also. You they they say that the optimal sleeping temperature is a couple of degrees. Cooler than you normally would have it on that's supposed to B it will help. With the minimize distractions. All of these things and can really help you get more restored absolutely and that's what that's the big message. That. That. Public health experts are trying to press went calms the sleep if you're gonna if you can get your sleep if you gonna take the trouble the plan sleep. Make sure that the conditions are right for you to actually. Go to sleep in stay asleep the team and a ton needs to get through all those cycles. As I feel like the take away years and you're the experts and on up towards the amount but that sleep is really important for your health. And that you you have to put a little discipline into getting enough and getting good sleep just like you put discipline into other parts here. Absolutely it's it's not something that we think of prioritizing perhaps because it is so often been associated with O yet that person's lazy they're taking alienated they need to get their sleeper whenever. It's not it's not least its not lazy to prioritize sleep as not lazy to make sure that. Your functioning at that peak of your ability because your bodies well rested and your able to take advantage of all of year. All your faculties when it comes to attention. And you know this is this is. I'm I'm a little bit hypocritical talking about this right now because I know that none of us none of us prioritize it the way that we should but it's definitely something to think about for overall. I think owning the fact that it's good for us. You're not lazy for sleeping the amount that you need which is crazy concept to me that's like thing I've read too much hair. I drink too much water they keep your body needs it you should take it right so am I'm proud I am on apologetic about being long sleeper and a snapper. At the area and thank you periods that can really breach thank you so much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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