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The telomeres and sleep



Aging is an inevitable aspect of life. As we progress in age, our bodies undergo unavoidable changes. One of the factors that has gained significant attention in this process is telomeres. These essential components within our chromosomes play a critical role in cell replication and their interaction with the surrounding environment. Think of them as fibers extending from the nucleus of our cells, acting as guardians of cellular stability and longevity. In this instance, we will delve into the detailed connection between telomeres and sleep, unveiling how the quality of our rest can significantly influence these structures and, ultimately, the progression of cellular aging.


Telomeres act as the custodians of our cells. Consider them as the caps on the ends of our chromosomes, which carry our genetic instructions. By definition, telomeres are repetitive segments of non-coding DNA residing at the ends of chromosomes. As we age, our bodies undergo natural changes, and telomeres are one of the most intriguing aspects that have emerged in understanding the aging process. These critical pieces play a vital role in cell replication and how our cells interact with their surrounding environment.


The erosion of telomeres, according to various scientific studies, is closely associated with the aging process. When we are born, we have telomeres with a length measured in base pairs of approximately 100,000. At 35 years old, this quantity reduces to around 75,000, and by the age of 75, we are left with about 48,000 telomeres. This change is remarkable, representing a reduction of over 22 times in their original length. However, just as we can negatively influence their shortening, we can also slow down and even reverse this shortening process.


One factor that can contribute to telomere length reduction is poor sleep quality. Sleep is more than just a state of rest; it is a complex physiological process that regulates multiple neurophysiological functions and is essential for maintaining our health and well-being. The connection between telomeres and sleep lies in the fact that individuals experiencing poor sleep quality tend to exhibit telomere shortening. This shortening is associated with premature cellular aging, emphasizing the importance not only of getting enough sleep but also of improving the overall quality of our sleep.


Sleep hygiene encompasses aspects beyond mere rest time; it involves environmental, social, and personal factors that can influence sleep quality. For example, exposure to blue light from electronic devices before bedtime can disrupt our circadian rhythm and reduce the quality of our sleep. Additionally, the social environment plays a crucial role; job demands that keep us working late into the night can contribute to poor sleep quality. Likewise, family or social interruptions can affect our ability to achieve restorative sleep. It is also essential to note that negative thoughts that may seem overwhelming at night and then insignificant during the day also influence how we experience and utilize our rest hours.


To improve sleep quality, several key recommendations can be followed. Firstly, establishing a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule can significantly help regulate our biological clock. Secondly, it is essential to avoid exposure to blue light before going to bed, especially from electronic devices. If using these devices is necessary, activating the night mode to reduce the amount of blue light is a sensible option. Thirdly, having the support of family and coworkers to respect our sleep schedules can have a positive impact on the quality of our rest. Lastly, it is helpful to shift our thought focus during the night. For example, we can focus on the small or significant achievements of the day. Instead of thinking negatively, such as "I won't be able to function well tomorrow if I don't sleep well," we can opt for more positive thoughts, like "although I may not perform as well without proper sleep, I can still manage my responsibilities."


In summary, sleep quality is essential not only for improving overall quality of life but also for preserving the length and health of our telomeres. Maintaining good sleep hygiene can slow down the process of cellular aging, which has significant implications for our long-term health and well-being. It is crucial to understand that sleep goes beyond mere rest; it is a vital component of a person's overall health.

Emiliano Teran


References


  1. Blackburn, E., & Epel, E. (2017). La solución de los telómeros: Un acercamiento revolucionario para vivir más joven, más sano y más tiempo. Aguilar.

  2. Terán Bobadilla, Emiliano. (2022). El Ladrón del sueño. El impacto de la luz azul en el ciclo circadiano. Ed. Pandora.



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