Can sleep be a barrier against aging?

I know that what I'm writing about may be a little strange, but as far as I know,when we are asleep, our human body is programmed to carry on biological functionalities in a really optimized way and we are less sensible to external stress. So I wonder whether putting people in some state of induced coma for a long period of time (I mean for years) may reduce the effect of time and aging on their bodies to be able to awake them later ,almost as they were before undergoing the process ?

Note: I'm not speaking about the process of freezing bodies - only bare sleep.

Sleep and Overeating

It’s common knowledge that both getting good sleep and following a healthy diet are essential for overall health. Often overlooked, though, is that there is an important relationship between sleep and nutrition.

A major part of that relationship is the link between sleep and overeating. Sleep deprivation can affect appetite and food choices, increasing the likelihood of both overeating and consuming unhealthy foods.

Overeating can affect sleep as well. Eating too much, especially when it involves heavy or spicy foods, can worsen sleep by interfering with digestion and raising the risk of heartburn. For this reason, most experts advise against eating too much and too close to bedtime.

Recognizing the bidirectional relationship between sleep and overeating can be a first step toward optimizing your diet and your sleep.

Human life expectancy has increased through two distinct process firstly a reduction in child mortality, and second a reduction in the burden of damage accumulated over an adult life span. Control of infectious disease has played a large role in both components of gains in life expectancy. The trend has been slow. In recent decades, something like 0.2 years of life expectancy at birth and 0.1 years of remaining life expectancy at age 60 have been added with each passing calendar year.

Life expectancy is an artificial measure, of course: it is the length of life remaining, on average, assuming that nothing changes in the state of medical science and public health practices. But there are always improvements. At present, the medical research community is shifting from a paradigm in which the mechanisms that cause aging were ignored, to a paradigm in which the mechanisms that cause aging are deliberately targeted. Meaningful slowing and reversal of degenerative aging are now on the table as options for the years ahead. This will cause considerable, and welcome, disruption to the slow historical increase in life expectancy. The future is bright.

A recent study analysed data from the Human Mortality Database (HMD), specifically looking at the probability of death at a given age. For various countries, including the US, Sweden, and Japan, individuals over 50 years had their mortality postponed, on average, by a decade for every age group (50s, 60s, 70s, etc.) from 1967 to 2017. In the example of Sweden, mortality remained constant more or less over the 19th and 20th centuries, until 1950 where an international life expectancy revolution took place.

This could be due to the colossal medical advancements that took place: the discovery of the structure of DNA, novel vaccines, the first successful kidney transplant, a novel antibiotic tetracycline, the first oral contraceptive and the invention of the internal pacemaker. Since then, life expectancy increased almost linearly at a rate of 2.5 years per decade all over the world. This same trend is observed in the longevity leader - Japan. Undoubtedly, the improvements in mortality stem from postponing it and thus prolonging both lifespan and healthspan. People are living longer due to being healthier and thus aging diseases are pushed back, developing later in life.

There are three predominant views on which longevity researchers speculate about the future of life expectancy: 1) life expectancy will rise, but more slowly that in the past due to reaching the 'limit' 2) the same 2.5 year per decade increase in life expectancy will continue as in the past 3) life expectancy will rise at a much faster rate due to biomedical advances, as previously seen in the 1950s. The future for longevity will differ from the past, as various mortality improvements play their part. A more effective public health strategy, along with devising treatments to cure aging diseases, such as dementia and cancer, would push out the current limits of healthspan and lifespan. Furthermore, developments in precision medicine, nanotechnology, regenerating tissues, and research on the biology of aging may all lead to slowing rates of aging.

Honestly this will come with a lot of new social issues. Living so long and so healthily is going to create weird conundrums. A 40 year old is twice as smart as his 20 year old self. Imagine that at 60 years, 80 and so on. With no faculty decline and good health.

Additionally how people look at life and what is important financially, personally, and so on will change. At 20 years old I had not a care in the world because my entire life was ahead of me. I could work a krap job because that job did not define me I had unlimited potential. As you get older however you need to perform, you need to meet expectations for yourself and from others.

It will be interesting to see if 60 year olds revert back into 20 year old pot heads if they get a second go at the whole thing.

Doubling your "smartness" every 20 years has a limit, perhaps at 120 years, because your brain will be overloaded with information and to get "smarter" over that limit will require outsourcing your memory to external computer chips or molecular microscopic computer system.
And would a "chronologically 60 year old revert back into 20 year old pot head" ?
I doubt it. If you are 3 times smarter at 60 compared to when you were 20, then why would you take dangerous narcotics? "Smartness" in your brain will make you behave "smartly", which means avoiding high risk lifestyle, dangerous activity, and other foolish death-defying behavior. That is if you continue believing in life extension , health extension and youthfulness. You wouldn't want to die of accident or overdose.

It is against your Faith to act foolishly and unsafely.

@David, @Nicolas
One doesn't become smarter but wiser and gains more experience with age. As for reverting to the stupid lifestyle. At 22 I was able to drink quite large quantities of alcohol. If I could do it with the same impunity (I had only a handful hangovers )I might do it once in a while. Therefore, for sure, there's will be people reverting to the patying lifestyle.
Others will have to pay the mortgage, kids college and such.

There might be some social postponement and delayed maturity. In fact, we already have it compared to a few hundred years ago where 14-16 was considered an adult age and the people back then had to mature socially quite early. Now we have people in their mid 30s living with their parents.

So we have an established trend and it is quite plausible

@Cuberat, I think within a decade or two, Universal basic income will become more prevalent as robots become more common, cheaper, and versatile thus reducing many jobs. IMO, government should tax companies more heavily each time a human is replaced with a robot. In the ideal world, that robot will compensate displaced/replaced workers, so its only fitting that society benefits from this not the singulty company, IMO. Yes, the future could be awesome. I like to compare this possible utopian way with Star Trek regarding work.

Even now we have witnessed some elements of UBI as disaster /covid relief payments. It remains to be seen of those payments will trigger large inflation or function as a form of quantitative easing.

As for taxing the companies for displacing humans with robots it is hard to do, easily evaded and gives perverse incentives. If a job can be better and cheaper performed by a robot it would be a net negative to mandate a meatbag job. What would be fair and at the same time productive wealth redistribution is a huge it debate. Unfortunately much hotter than the backwaterish anti-aging research. .

"Eternal"life is inevitable-sooner than we may think. Except of course if we refute the medical advances or accidentally obliterate our bodies. Even then our memories could be downloaded from a quantum computer into biologically identical (or upgraded) bodies grown from our DNA.
To accommodate all this, an awful lot of existing dogma and ideology will have to be "reconstructed". The Great Reward will be for everyone to get up in the morning after a worry free sleep with no anxieties about finance, health, or security and enjoy a beautiful day hardwired to accommodation with nature.

What Controls Our Circadian Rhythm?

How does our body clock know what time of day it is? The circadian biological clock is controlled by a part of the brain called the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN), a group of cells in the hypothalamus that respond to light and dark signals. When our eyes perceive light, our retinas send a signal to our SCN. The SCN sets off a chain reaction of hormone production and suppression that affects body temperature, appetite, sleep drive, and more.

Each morning, as sunlight creeps in, our body temperature begins to rise and cortisol is released, increasing our alertness and causing us to wake up. In the evening, as it becomes dark outside, melatonin levels rise and body temperature lowers. Melatonin stays elevated throughout the night, promoting sleep. As long as our eyes perceive light, the SCN responds by suppressing melatonin production. This explains why evening exposure to light, such as that from indoor light or electronic devices that emit blue light, such as a computer or television, make it harder to fall asleep.

Sleep Stage Variations

An EEG of typical REM sleep.

Although it may appear so from the outside, sleep is not a completely inactive state. During sleep, the brain’s activity changes in characteristic ways over the course of the night. These patterns have been classified into two main types of sleep: rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep. NREM sleep is broken down into three distinct stages: N1, N2, and N3. These stages are characterized by increasingly larger and slower brain waves. N1 sleep is very light sleep N2 is slightly deeper sleep and N3, also called slow-wave sleep, is the deepest NREM sleep stage.

REM sleep, which is often associated with dreaming, is thought to assist in brain development, especially early in life. Not surprisingly, newborns and infants typically spend about twice as much time as adults in REM sleep. Interestingly, the neurological barrier that inhibits muscles in the legs and arms from contracting during REM sleep and prevents people from "acting out" their dreams is also not fully developed in newborns. Without full inhibition, brain activity associated with REM sleep can result in dramatic twitches and movements of an infant’s limbs. Some of these are strong enough to stir the child from sleep. Only during the second six months of life does the system develop sufficiently to inhibit dramatic body movements during REM sleep.

Sleep cycles, composed of REM and NREM sleep, last for about 50 minutes in children and 90 minutes in adults. Infants’ and children’s cycles contain a relatively large amount of slow-wave (N3) sleep—the non-dreaming, restorative kind that is also known as deep sleep. In early adulthood the amount of slow-wave sleep begins to decline. Elderly adults typically have relatively short periods of slow-wave sleep and fewer of them. In other words, sleep is lighter and more fragmented with brief arousals or longer awakenings throughout the night.

Sleep stages and other patterns are covered in much greater detail in Natural Patterns of Sleep.

Some of the most obvious signs that you've been tossing and turning or pulling an all-nighter include eye redness and under-eye circles.

"When you don't sleep, your eyes are going to be redder [and] more swollen. You'll get dark circles under your eyes [and] your skin will look paler," Dr. Jaliman told INSIDER.

You may typically recognize these cues of tiredness when you look in the mirror but research has also shown that they widely signal sleep deprivation.

A small study published by the Sleep Research Society in 2013 had 40 observers rate 20 photographs of faces based on facial cues, fatigue, and sadness. It found that p articipants perceived that the sleep-deprived individuals in photos had characteristics like droopy eyelids, redder eyes, darker under-eye circles, and paler skin.

Although dark circles may be partially caused by genetics (veins beneath the eyes are usually more visible on people with lighter skin), sleep deprivation can exacerbate them since it can cause the pooling of blood in under-eye vessels. Pooled fluid can also cause puffiness.

Healthy Lifestyle May Buffer Against Stress-Related Cell Aging, Study Says

A new study from UC San Francisco is the first to show that while the impact of life’s stressors accumulate over time and accelerate cellular aging, these negative effects may be reduced by maintaining a healthy diet, exercising and sleeping well.

“The study participants who exercised, slept well and ate well had less telomere shortening than the ones who didn’t maintain healthy lifestyles, even when they had similar levels of stress,” said lead author Eli Puterman, PhD, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at UCSF. “It’s very important that we promote healthy living, especially under circumstances of typical experiences of life stressors like death, caregiving and job loss.”

The paper will be published in Molecular Psychiatry, a peer-reviewed science journal by Nature Publishing Group.

Telomeres are the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes that affect how quickly cells age. They are combinations of DNA and proteins that protect the ends of chromosomes and help them remain stable. As they become shorter, and as their structural integrity weakens, the cells age and die quicker. Telomeres also get shorter with age.

In the study, researchers examined three healthy behaviors –physical activity, dietary intake and sleep quality – over the course of one year in 239 post-menopausal, non-smoking women. The women provided blood samples at the beginning and end of the year for telomere measurement and reported on stressful events that occurred during those 12 months. In women who engaged in lower levels of healthy behaviors, there was a significantly greater decline in telomere length in their immune cells for every major life stressor that occurred during the year. Yet women who maintained active lifestyles, healthy diets, and good quality sleep appeared protected when exposed to stress – accumulated life stressors did not appear to lead to greater shortening.

“This is the first study that supports the idea, at least observationally, that stressful events can accelerate immune cell aging in adults, even in the short period of one year. Exciting, though, is that these results further suggest that keeping active, and eating and sleeping well during periods of high stress are particularly important to attenuate the accelerated aging of our immune cells,” said Puterman.

In recent years, shorter telomeres have become associated with a broad range of aging-related diseases, including stroke, vascular dementia, cardiovascular disease, obesity, osteoporosis diabetes, and many forms of cancer.

Research on telomeres, and the enzyme that makes them, telomerase, was pioneered by three Americans, including UCSF molecular biologist and co-author Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD. Blackburn co-discovered the telomerase enzyme in 1985. The scientists received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for their work.

“These new results are exciting yet observational at this point. They do provide the impetus to move forward with interventions to modify lifestyle in those experiencing a lot of stress, to test whether telomere attrition can truly be slowed,” said Blackburn.

Co-authors include senior author Elissa Epel, PhD, department of psychiatry, Jue Lin, PhD, department of biochemistry and biophysics, both of UCSF and Jeffrey Krauss, MD, division of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Stanford University. Lin, Epel and Blackburn are the co-founders of Telome Health Inc., a diagnostic company measuring telomere biology.

The study was supported by the Baumann Foundation and the Barney & Barbro Foundation. Puterman is supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

UCSF is the nation’s leading university exclusively focused on health. Now celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding as a medical college, UCSF is dedicated to transforming health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy a graduate division with world-renowned programs in the biological sciences, a preeminent biomedical research enterprise and two top-tier hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco.

6. Put that Mattress to the Test

Dr. David Weeks has done research on what keeps some young and found that it boiled down to two primary factors.

&ldquoThe key ingredients for looking younger are staying active &hellip and maintaining a good sex life.&rdquo &ndash Dr. Weeks

His research found that regular sex, with a committed partner, up to three times a week, lead to someone looking between four and seven years younger than their chronological age. Researchers are not quite sure how or why regular sex has such a powerful effect. It could be that sex increases intimacy with your partner and your sense of connection. It could be that sex releases certain hormones that are known to decrease as we age. It might even be that sex can be somewhat vigorous and the anti-aging boost is from the physical activity.

But really, does it matter?


Insomnia is simply the inability to fall or stay asleep. It also describes sleep that is unrefreshing and of poor quality. It may occur over the short-term, often as the result of an identifiable stressor, and be called acute insomnia. It also may become a more chronic condition. Insomnia can lead to great distress, and in exceptional circumstances, it may be fatal (such as in fatal familial insomnia). Fortunately, there are many treatment options available that are effective, including cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI).  

Overview of The ASTM F3502-21 Barrier Face Covering Standard

Unlike respirators and surgical masks, the masks worn to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 don’t have to meet federal standards to confirm their performance. That lack of standardized testing and labeling has left mask users with no way to compare face covering products to make informed decisions when choosing a face covering.

While barrier face coverings (BFCs) are not respirators or surgical masks, they may prevent the wearer from spreading larger droplets that can carry infectious organisms, such as the virus that causes COVID-19. ASTM International, with input from NIOSH, recently developed a new Barrier Face Covering standard (number F3502-21) to establish a set of uniform testing methods and performance criteria. To meet the ASTM standard, a BFC must meet certain design and performance requirements, including filtration efficiency and air flow, which must be tested by an accredited laboratory and labeled accordingly.

The new ASTM International standard is a consensus standard developed by a non-federal entity. Unlike federal regulations or statutes, consensus standards are recommendations or practices that do not have the force of law and are created by a non-governmental group of experts.

The classification system in the ASTM barrier face covering standard was not intended to define the actual overall performance of the barrier face covering as either a means of source control or personal protection. Rather, the development of this national standard provides a consistent baseline that allows comparison of product claims in terms of filtration efficiency, breathability, re-use potential, and leakage.

Filtration efficiency – The level of filtration efficiency refers to how well the BFC material blocks particles from going through it when the user is exhaling or inhaling. The higher the level of filtration efficiency, the more particles are blocked from penetrating through the material. Barrier face coverings may be rated at two levels of filter efficiency, 20% or 50%, (and must be labeled accordingly) when evaluated with methods similar to those used by NIOSH to evaluate respirator particulate filters. Face coverings with 20% or higher filtration have lower performance than those with 50% or higher filtration. A NIOSH-approved respirator will perform at a higher rated efficiency than a BFC tested to the ASTM standard. For example, a NIOSH-approved respirator with an N95 filter has a minimum filtration efficiency of 95% for the test aerosol at the test flow rate of 85 liters per minute.

Breathability – If a barrier face covering is hard to breathe through, users will not be able to wear it for long periods. Therefore, ASTM incorporated requirements for breathing resistance into the specification, requiring a method similar to that used to evaluate respirator filters. The airflow resistance of a BFC must be 15 mm H2O or below. This value was selected because it represents a level thought to be acceptable to most users and is similar to the resistance for many N95 filtering facepiece respirators. The standard also recommends a second performance level of 5 mm H20 or below, which indicates better performance and a more comfortable BFC.

Re-use potential – Products marketed as “reusable” must meet the ASTM standard requirements for filtration efficiency and breathability when right out of the package and after the maximum number of laundering or cleaning cycles identified by the manufacturer.

Leakage– Leakage represents how well the barrier face covering prevents particles entering or exiting the BFC around the edges when worn on the face. The manufacturer must specify how, through their design and manufacturing process, they minimized leakage. The standard also describes a non-mandatory quantitative method for evaluating leakage using a group of human subjects.

Additionally, the standard provides design requirements for the general construction of masks, use of nonirritating and nontoxic materials, flammability, sizing, and shelf life. Manufacturers can now report that their barrier face coverings meet the baseline performance measures described in the standard. The label includes information about filtration efficiency and breathability. Users and purchasers can now select ASTM-compliant barrier face coverings based on their labeled performance in filtration, breathing resistance, and leakage.

Additional resources about the ASTM barrier face covering F3502-21 standard are available at ASTM International is currently providing no cost public access to their COVID-19 related standards.

Barrier face coverings are not respirators or surgical masks and are not regulated by NIOSH, or approved by NIOSH pursuant to the respirator approval program. The NIOSH respirator approval program certifies that an individual or combination of respirators has met the minimum requirements of federal regulations at 42 C.F.R. Part 84, and that the manufacturer is authorized to use and attach a NIOSH approval label. More information on this program is available here.

Jonathan Szalajda, MS, is the Deputy Director of the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory.

Jeffrey O. Stull, MS, President of International Personnel Protection, Inc., which provides independent expertise on PPE and standards development.

Lisa M. Brosseau, ScD, CIH is a Research Consultant with the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy and retired professor from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Public Health.

11 comments on &ldquoOverview of The ASTM F3502-21 Barrier Face Covering Standard&rdquo

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Thanks for this overview of this new standard. Hopefully, it will be effective at improving face covers for the public. As these face coverings are not respirators, they should not be used to replace FFRs or other respirators, correct? Given the experience over this last year with this pandemic, it seems that many more employers should be providing workers with FFRs to protect against aerosol transmission of the coronavirus.

You are correct, face coverings are not respirators and should not be used in situations where respiratory protection is needed.