Sleep deprivation is one of the greatest public health challenges we face: Psychology professor

Before Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was arrested in the desert as part of a wide-ranging anti-corruption initiative by Saudi Arabia’s future king, he was seen reading the book “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker, according to Bloomberg.

University of California, Berkeley Neuroscience & Psychology Professor Matthew Walker said Tuesday that sleep problems are universal and a lack of sleep can cause more damage than people may think.

Walker said he was surprised that Alwaleed was reading his book, but said that perhaps ”I think what it does is underscore how universal this thing called sleep actually is. It transcends national boundaries, it transcends cultural boundaries, it seems to be common across the globe,” he told FOX Business’ Liz Claman on “Countdown to the Closing Bell.”

Walker said that losing sleep is one of the greatest public health challenges that the world faces in the 21st century.

“Well there is a global sleep loss epidemic under way and those words are the World Health Organizations and also the CDC not my own. We also know that every disease that is killing us is in the developed world has casual and significant links to a lack of sleep,” he said.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, not getting enough sleep can be linked to conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression.

The “Why We Sleep” author explained how regularity can help prevent sleep loss from occurring.

“I think if there is one tip I could sort of offer you is going to bed and waking up at the same time, regularity is key. Even at the weekend you will have this tendency to drift forward in time, go to bed later wake up later. That means that when you get to Sunday night, it’s especially difficult to fall asleep earlier, you’ll feel miserable in the morning it’s called social jet lag,” he said.

Walker also blames a lack of darkness as one of the reasons people have trouble sleeping.

“We are a dark deprived society in the modern era and you need darkness to release a hormone called Melatonin to get you into healthy timed sleep,” he said.

Walker also discussed how alcohol can negatively impact someone’s sleep cycle.

“Alcohol is perhaps the most misunderstood drug, it simply is sedating your brain and it wakes you up throughout the night and it blocks your dream sleep,” he said.