2/6/10 The science behind wind farm residents complaints: AND A school teacher's letter from "Turbine Town"
The complaints of wind farm residents in our state have been routinely met with eye-rolling dismissiveness from wind companies, developers and lobbyists.
Recently, some wind farm residents have noted significant weight gain since the turbines have gone on line.
It's a claim that may seem easy to mock. That is until you look at the science that ties lack of sleep to increased risk of obesity, as this article from London Times as recently done.
The article is followed by abstracts of recently published papers which support these findings.
Does Tiredness Make You Fat?
Recent research has suggested that a lack of sleep is associated with increased risk of some cancers, heart disease and diabetes. There’s also an increasing consensus that lack of sleep can contribute to obesity. The reason is that our vital hormonal systems regulate and reset the body at night. Our nocturnal functions are vital to our daytime wellbeing.
Sleeplessness makes you fat
Kidney filtration and bowel activity reduce at night. There is little evidence that eating shortly before sleeping, leaving food in an inactive gut, has any ill effect apart from leaving you feeling a bit full in the morning. Though some diet gurus say that eating carbohydrates before bedtime makes you put on weight, it shouldn’t make a difference because your metabolism is working more slowly.
But the hormones that regulate your metabolism and hunger levels do change with sleep. Studies by the National Sleep Foundation in America have revealed that sleep keeps down the levels of an appetite-driving hormone called ghrelin. It also keeps up levels of the hormone leptin, which prevents the body from thinking that it needs more food. In other words, sleep helps you to keep slim, while lack of sleep can contribute to obesity. Experiments indicate that restricting sleep can mean that your body thinks it is short of up to 900 calories a day.
Brain and senses
Our brains career on a rollercoaster of changing activity as we go through the phases of sleep — non-rapid eye movement sleep, which includes light sleep, true sleep and deep sleep, and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is when we dream. As sleep deepens, most brain cells fire off less rapidly, but in a far more co-ordinated pattern than during waking hours. With sleep, our eye movements change, darting around wildly during REM sleep. Our mouths become dry but our ears remain alert to noise.
The immune system is more active at night. Experiments have shown that during sleep it releases more proteins called cytokines, which mean that the system can launch co-ordinated attacks on invaders. Research from Stanford University indicates that the immune system fights invading bacteria hardest at night, and least during the day. In fact, there are studies showing that if we don’t sleep, we become more susceptible to infection from colds. Malcolm von Schantz, associate dean at the Surrey Sleep Research Centre, says that this is why asthma attacks — which can be caused by an overreaction of the immune system — are more common at night.
Our skin changes at night as it receives extra supplies of blood. Research by cosmetics companies suggests that after shearing off layers of surface dead cells in the day, our skin increases the rate of production of new cells in deep sleep. There is some objective evidence too that the skin is improved at night. A study presented to the European Sleep Research Society suggested that people who were sleep-deprived were consistently rated as looking less healthy and attractive, partly because of their skin tone.
Repair and regeneration
The levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, which keep us active during the day, drop in the evening. Instead, the body secretes growth hormones in large amounts, making us grow up until early adulthood. As we get older, growth hormones are responsible for promoting the repair of damaged tissue. The body also produces more melatonin, which helps us to sleep and may also help to protect us against certain types of cancer. Temperature drop Our in-built body clock lowers our temperature by about 1C at night because our body is far more likely to descend into sleep if it is cool. That’s why we tend to feel chilly if we nod off on the sofa. Temperatures fall to their lowest level during the 10 to 30-minute periods of REM when we need to be under a duvet. As morning comes, body temperature rises, which helps us to wake up.
Several scientists have noticed that limbs, hands and feet tend to become enlarged during sleep. This is possibly because they have become engorged with blood. Our limbs become paralysed during REM sleep, preventing us from acting out our dreams.
Heart and blood
According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, one function of sleep may be to give the heart a chance to rest from the constant demands of waking life. For most of the night, the heart rate decreases and blood pressure drops as blood is pushed around the body with less and less force. During REM sleep, however, the heart rate increases again.
Sleep and the epidemic of obesity in children and adults
Eve Van Cauter and Kristen L Knutson
Departments of Medicine, MC1027 Health Studies, University of Chicago, 5841 S. Maryland Avenue Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA
This paper was presented at the 5th Ferring International Paediatric Endocrinology Symposium, Baveno, Italy (2008). Ferring Pharmaceuticals has supported the publication of these proceedings.
Sleep is an important modulator of neuroendocrine function and glucose metabolism in children as well as in adults.
In recent years, sleep curtailment has become a hallmark of modern society with both children and adults having shorter bedtimes than a few decades ago. This trend for shorter sleep duration has developed over the same time period as the dramatic increase in the prevalence of obesity.
There is rapidly accumulating evidence from both laboratory and epidemiological studies to indicate that chronic partial sleep loss may increase the risk of obesity and weight gain. The present article reviews laboratory evidence indicating that sleep curtailment in young adults results in a constellation of metabolic and endocrine alterations, including decreased glucose tolerance, decreased insulin sensitivity, elevated sympathovagal balance, increased evening concentrations of cortisol, increased levels of ghrelin, decreased levels of leptin, and increased hunger and appetite.
We also review cross-sectional epidemiological studies associating short sleep with increased body mass index and prospective epidemiological studies that have shown an increased risk of weight gain and obesity in children and young adults who are short sleepers.
Altogether, the evidence points to a possible role of decreased sleep duration in the current epidemic of obesity.
Childhood Sleep Time and Long-Term Risk for Obesity:
"Shorter childhood sleep times were significantly associated with higher adult BMI [body mass index] values.
This association remained after adjustment for adult sleep time and the potential confounding effects of early childhood BMI, childhood socioeconomic status, parental BMIs, child and adult television viewing, adult physical activity, and adult smoking.
In logistic regression analyses, more sleep time during childhood was associated with lower odds of obesity at 32 years of age. This association was significant after adjustment for multiple potential confounding factors.
CONCLUSIONS. These findings suggest that sleep restriction in childhood increases the long-term risk for obesity. Ensuring that children get adequate sleep may be a useful strategy for stemming the current obesity epidemic." [Click here for full text]
A LETTER FROM A SCHOOL TEACHER IN TURBINE TOWN
Clear Creek, Ontario. Quiet, peaceful. The sound of the lake; the overhead passing of migrating geese; tundra swans in the early spring. Deer and wild turkeys. Clear starry skies. Silent except for the sounds of the crickets and bullfrogs. The sight of a small country church across the way, the church I remember attending as a young girl with my grandmother.
Sounds nice, doesn’t it? That was my retreat of 11 years. A place I called home, a place I loved, a place I miss. It was my heaven on earth.
My home now sits among huge, massive turbines. Eighteen turbines surround me, all within a 3 km radius of my home. The closest is 400 metres from my back door.
People often ask me what my problem is with the turbines. (“They’re not very noisy,” I am told.)
The noise is constant, some days louder than others. It is not noise I enjoy or choose to be around. It is noise I cannot escape.
What most don’t understand is that it is the low frequency waves you cannot hear that are so debilitating to one’s health. These frequencies also drive away the wildlife. I no longer have deer, geese, swans passing by. These frequencies torment my dogs. These frequencies keep me awake at night.
Welcome to “Turbine Town” Clear Creek, Ontario.
I live with the movement of shadow flicker created by the rotation of the turbines, coming through my dining room window as I drink my coffee in the morning. I have developed a sensitivity in which now I cannot even tolerate the movement of a small ceiling fan.
The skies where I live are no longer clear but dotted with blinking red lights marking the height of the turbines. When the turbines are down, a constant buzzing noise is emitted from the motionless structures. I have developed tinitus in my ears. I hear and feel the pulsating of the turbines and buzzing in my ears. I also feel the pulsating in my throat and chest.
Two homes have been abandoned where I live because of health reasons related to the effects of the turbines. One of these properties is host to 2 turbines. Many properties are for sale. In fact most of the properties where landowners reside on premises are for sale. Real estate sales in my area are significantly less than other areas in Ontario. Some real estate brokers will not touch a property adjacent to a turbine for fear of future law suit.
Nothing is selling in Turbine Town. Land value has decreased significantly because of the turbines.
There is a dividing of the community. There are those who have signed leases, many of whom are regretting they were mislead or ill informed regarding the turbines. People are reluctant to speak about the turbine situation. These leases contain “gag orders.” Many of these people suffer, yet are embarrassed and therefore deny the turbines are the cause of their illness.
- nausea (often) & dizziness (often)
- significant hearing loss
- itchy eyes
- high blood pressure (recently, an immediate and intense elevation to 180/118, causing severe headache and complete dysfunction)
- heart palpitations
- achy joints
- short term memory loss
- severe sleep deprivation on a regular basis
Results of a sleep study I had done showed 214 interruptions in a 6 hour period (note: 6-8 is considered normal; 214 is comparable to someone who has attention deficit disorder). I have very little if any regenerative sleep periods. I have been told that I have developed a sensitivity that does not leave my body when I leave the vicinity of the turbines. The term used was “toxic”—my body is in a toxic state.
I have an ulcer in my nose that does not heal. I am awaiting an appointment in November with an ears, nose and throat specialist (otolaryngologist).
I often have blood in my urine (never was a problem in the past). I am having problems with my lymph nodes. I have been anaemic because of excessive blood loss. Blood work and other tests do not indicate changes which may cause this hemorrhaging. I have spent time in the emergency room at the hospital because of this.
I once thought my degenerating health was part of the natural aging process. I did not believe the turbines could be the cause of my health issues. I questioned myself as to whether or not it was all in my head. I now believe exposure to the turbines accelerate these processes as well as create other health problems.
I am angry, helpless, and disappointed our government would let something like this happen. I am appalled at their ignorance and lack of compassion. It saddens me to watch my family and friends suffer from the same effects of the turbines.
It is also very saddening for me to see my dogs suffering. I cannot imagine the distress they must be enduring because of their sensitive hearing. I have not figured out what to do about it.
I spend as much time as I can away from my home, away from my son who is also sleep deprived. We are exhausted and miserable. I often seek refuge with friends, often falling asleep minutes after I arrive. They are very understanding.
I feel like a gypsy.
What was once a beautiful place to live has been destroyed. And for what? I suggest you think about it long and hard before committing to these huge monstrosities known as industrial wind turbines.
TRACY WHITWORTH, School Teacher
Clear Creek, Ontario