8 Ways Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Health
Are you getting enough sleep and z’s for ultimate health?
- Sleep is our daily tune-up to restore, regenerate, repair, and rebuild our body.
- For children sleeping is when growth hormones are secreted.
- People who have consistent quality sleep will look and feel healthier. It will show in our physical appearance — our skin looks healthier and our muscle are toned.
- According to Dr. Neil B. Kavey, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City — “We don’t fully understand the importance of sleep. What we do know is that sleep is an anabolic, or building, process. And we think it restores the body’s energy supplies that have been depleted through the day’s activities.”
Why Do We Need Sleep And What Lack of Sleep Can Cause:
1. For Proper Brain Function and Activity: Sleep is a time for restoring mental energy.
- When we don’t have enough sleep we can’t think clearly and it affects our cognitive processing. We cannot function at our jobs properly and are more likely to make errors in our work and our creative abilities are affected.
- Many accidents are caused by lack of sleep — accidents at home, the workplace and on the highway. We can’t drive a car properly because our reactive time is so much slower, we don’t see clearly, and we are not aware of many things around us. This all spells DISASTER! Poor quality of sleep and sleep disorders have been reported by The National Sleep Foundation estimating that 100,000 highway crashes and the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) furthers the report with 71,0000 injuries, and 1,500 deaths.
2. Coordination is Impaired: Our ability to physical activities with agility is compromised.
- We become prone to falling or losing our balance which could lead to a serious injury.
3. Our Personalities:
- We may become irritable, moodier, less tolerant, and lose our sense of humor. Children will many times become irritable and cranky if they haven’t had adequate sleep.
- Lack of sleep and depression are associated. Depression is not necessarily caused by lack of sleep, but it certainly contributes to increasing the problem and is a major factor in most cases of severe depression.
- I know that when I have become sleep deprived — what I would normally would be able to laugh at somehow becomes a major crisis to me.
4. Immune System Functions are Impaired: We also see differences in immune responses from lack of sleep. A weaken immune is vulnerable to disease and sickness.
- According to Diwakar Balachandran, MD, director of the Sleep Center at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston– “Many studies show our T-cells go down if we are sleep deprived,. “And inflammatory cytokines go up. … This could potentially lead to the greater risk of developing a cold or flu.”
- According to John Park, MD, a pulmonologist who specializes in sleep medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., “We know that our immune response is suppressed when we are sleep deprived and that we develop less antibodies to certain vaccines if we are sleep-deprived,” Park says. “It takes longer for our body to respond to immunizations, so if we are exposed to a flu virus, we may be more likely to get sick than if we are well rested when vaccinated.”
5. Cancer and Lack of Sleep:
- According to Dr. Richard G. Stevens, Cancer Epidemiologist and professor at the University of Connecticut Health Center “Melatonin needs darkness, if its dark melatonin rises … more light at night, less sleep, and less melatonin increases the risk of breast cancer,”
- Because melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that fights cancer cells and is also thought to reduce the production of estrogen. Higher estrogen levels can cause the growth of breast cancer.
- Melatonin is a hormone that the brain produces while you sleep and is extremely important in wiping out free radicals and when we don’t get enough of sleep it can cause an imbalance in hormonal levels. Any factor that diminishes the production of melatonin also diminishes the body’s cancer-fighting capabilities.
6. Obesity: Sleep more to fight obesity just might help.
- According to the Columbia University and their data on studied performed in the 1980’s that involved 10,000 people found a correlation between lack of sleep and a higher body mass index (BMI). 73 percent of the individuals that had 5-6 hours of sleep nightly were more likely to have an elevated BMI and prone to obesity than those that had adequate sleep of 7-9 hours.
- Researchers believe that sleep deprivation triggers an imbalance in the levels of the appetite related hormones ghrelin and leptin. Leptin is a associated with appetite control and ghrelin is an appetite stimulant. Leptin levels tend to fall from sleep deprivation and ghrelin levels rise.
- Others studies have shown that insulin sensitivity is disrupted from lack of sleep.
7. Diabetes: The connection between lack of sleep and diabetes
- “There is some evidence that sleep deprivation could lead to pre-diabetic state,” says Mark Mahowald, MD, director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Hennepin County.
- Lack of sleep can cause high blood sugar and can result in insulin resistance — According to Mahowald. Your body is less sensitive to insulin and decreases blood sugar levels which can lead to Type 2 diabetes.
8. Heart Disease. How lack of sleep affects your heart
- Not enough sleep has been linked to elevated stress hormones such as cortisol and associated with high blood pressure.
- A study at Penn State University showed that lack of sleep triggered inflammation from higher levels of cytokine in the blood. This damages heart tissue and can lead to serious heart disease
- According to a study from the University of Chicago performed in 2008 — a link between shortened sleep and increased coronary artery calcification (calcium deposits), “a good predictor of subsequent coronary artery disease,” says researcher Diane Lauderdale, PhD, professor of epidemiology at the university’s Pritzker School of Medicine
Having a healthy lifestyle includes getting plenty of sleep, eating organic and healthy foods, living green in every aspect of your life. If you are one of the many people who have problems with lack of sleep I urge you to take control and find a natural or herbal remedy to help put your body back in balance. Life is short and we need all our energy to enjoy every moment.