Newsletter Article

Can 7 hours a night make you healthier and smarter?

January 2016

When life gets hectic, sleep time is often one of the first sacrifices we make. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that adults sleep for at least 7 hours each night.[1] Sleeping less than 7 hours on night on a regular basis is associated with a variety of adverse health outcomes, including weight gain and obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and stroke.

Sleep behavior not only affects physical health, but it can also influence the learning process.[2] Researchers believe that deep, restorative slow-wave sleep (SWS) plays an important role in the ability to remember newly acquired fact-based information. REM sleep, the stage when most dreaming occurs, appears to play more of a role in learning how to perform tasks. Overall sleep can affect one’s ability to learn motor tasks, as well as various types of visual learning.

Sleep quality may be equally important as sleep duration. Sleep apnea is a condition where an individual experiences pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep. This disrupts deep sleep and often results in daytime drowsiness.[3] More severe cases can cause a complete blockage of the airway and cause oxygen levels to drop, known as obstructive sleep apnea. When this condition is treated, sleep quality is improved and overall quality of life is improved as well.[4,5]

During adolescence, sleep is a vital part of healthy development. Numerous studies have linked obesity and poor sleep patterns in adolescents. A recent study examined sleep duration and quality in obese adolescents before they underwent a summer camp-based intervention program. Researchers found that shorter sleep duration was related to higher waist circumference, and lower sleep quality was related to higher BMI scores.[6] After the intervention, participants showed an increase in sleep duration, and a decrease in sleep latencies, BMI scores, and waist circumferences. This study suggest there may be a relationship between sleep quality and the effectiveness of a treatment program.


Broccoli originated in Italy, where it was developed from wild cabbage during ancient Roman times.[7] It then spread to the near east then back to Italy, where it was further cultivated. Broccoli was first introduced in the U.S. by Italian immigrants during colonial times. The name broccoli comes from the Latin word ‘brachium,’ which mean arm or branch.

Broccoli possesses many health-promoting properties, but its high concentration of antioxidant compounds, including vitamin C, kaempferol, quercetin, lutein, zeanthin, and beta-carotene, has helped it earn its superfood designation. These compounds combat oxidative stress in our bodies, which may help prevent numerous cancers, particularly those of the prostate, colon, breast, bladder, ovaries.

So how much broccoli do we really need to experience the benefits of this nutrient rich food? Studies show that just 2-cups of broccoli a week is enough to provide some of these benefits. Other studies have found increased levels of carcinogen excretion or increased levels of antioxidants in the blood at 1.6 cups and 3 cups of broccoli per day, respectively.

Strength Training in Older Age

Age-related loss of muscle mass and strength, known as sarcopenia, can result in functional impairments, frailty, and increases the likelihood of a fall or injury.[8] Resistance training has been shown to help prevent muscle loss. In a recent study, participants were administered resistance training and were assigned one of three different protein supplements.[9] The supplements were 12g of protein from either milk, soy, or rice milk. All three groups showed increases in muscle mass and strength in 1 rep max assessments.

For some older adults, going to a facility to work out may not be an option. However, another study showed that weight machines might not be necessary to help improve functional fitness in the elderly.[10] Men and women, aged 65 years or older, participated in either non-weighted high velocity training or weighted high-velocity training. The weighted group performed the same exercises, but with the use of exercise machines. Both groups showed significant improvements in lower body power, chair stand, and 8 ft. up-and-go. There were no differences between the groups, meaning that even without the use of equipment, the non-weighted group was still able to improve their strength and fitness. To help maintain fitness and to perform everyday activities, it is important for older adults to take part in some type of exercise program.

Health Matters is written by Lindsey Guthrie, MS, RD, LD/N and Tyler Guthrie, MS, CSCS.


  1. Watson NF, Badr MS, Belenky G, Bliwise DL, Buxton OM, Buysse D, Dinges DF, Gangwisch J, Grandner MA, Kushida C, Malhotra RK, Martin JL, Patel SR, Quan SF, Tasali E. Recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult: a joint consensus statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society. SLEEP 2015;38(6):843–844.
  2. Healthy Sleep. Sleep, Learning, and Memory.
  3. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Instutute. What is Sleep Apnea.
  4. Soose RJ, Woodson BT, Gillespie MB, et al. Upper Airway Stimulation for Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Self-reported Outcomes at 24 Months. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 2015; July.
  5. Bjornsdottir E, Keenan BT, Eysteinsdottir B, et al. “Quality of life among untreated sleep apnea patients compared with the general population and changes after treatment with positive airway pressure.” Journal of Sleep Research. 2015; 24(3): 328.
  6. Valrie CR, Bond K, Lutes LD, Carraway M, Collier DN. Relationship of sleep quality, baseline weight status, and weight-loss responsiveness in obese adolescents in an immersion treatment program. Sleep medicine 16.3 (2015): 432-434.
  7. The World’s Healthiest Foods. Broccoli.
  8. Aging in Motion. What is Sarcopenia.
  9. Maltais ML, Perreault-Ladouceur J, Dionne IJ. The effect of resistance training and different sources of post-exercise protein supplementation on muscle mass and physical capacity in sarcopenic elderly men. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2015; November.
  10. Glenn JM, Gray M, Binns A. The effects of loaded and unloaded high-velocity resistance training on functional fitness among community-dwelling older adults. Age and ageing. 2015; 44(6): 926.