(CBS News) Lack of sleep may do more than leave us cranky the next day. A new study suggests it may have damaging effects on our genes.
Though it's been known that sleep affects your health, Dr. Carol Ash, director of sleep medicine at Meridian Health, explained the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Feb. 25, shows how sleeping less than six hours of sleep a night will actually affect the activity of your genes -- up to 700 of them -- that control metabolism, immunity, inflammation and stress.
"Think of the genes as the production manual for the production of proteins," Ash said on "CBS This Morning." "And proteins are very important. They're the building blocks for everything in our body. So, if your changing these genes, you're actually turning some on and off and changing the way they wax and wane in their activities throughout the day, and so it literally will affect your health, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, obesity. All of these things have been linked to sleep, and this is suggesting a mechanism at the molecular level how that may be happening."
To get better sleep and potentially reduce the genetic impact of sleep deprivation, Ash suggested a regular bedtime with a relaxing bedtime routine and a consistent wake-up time. She added that most people need eight hours of sleep. She said, "If you do that for about a week, you should be jumping out of bed in the morning and feel very refreshed."