There is a lot of advice out there telling you how to stay healthy. You are told you must eat right to ensure your body receives all the nutrients it needs to function. Experts tell us about the importance of exercise and how it can keep our bodies healthy and fit. One of the most essential pieces of advice you will hear is how dangerous lack of sleep is. When you get the proper amount of sleep, you are protecting your physical health, safety, quality of life and mental health.
Your Brain During Sleep
When you are sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day as it recovers from the day you’ve just gone through. It begins to form new pathways to enable you to learn and remember new information. Research has proven when you get adequate sleep during the night; you will be able to learn new information easier the next day. Sleep will allow you to pay attention better, make decisions easier, and be more creative.
Physical health is significantly affected by the amount of sleep a person gets. While you are sleeping, your body is able to heal heart and blood vessels. Sleep will also help maintain your balance of hormones controlling your appetite. A lack of sleep will increase levels of ghrelin and decrease leptin. These increases and decreases will cause you to feel hungry. There are also many diseases that you become susceptible to with a lack of sleep.
Inadequate sleep has been linked to cardiovascular disease and a study found new evidence that the two are connected. Regardless of your age, whether or not you smoke, exercise, or what your weight is; people who lack in sleep are at the greatest risk for heart disease. During a study of 3,000 adults, results came back that those who slept less than six hours a night were at twice the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Diabetes and Obesity
Experts have long reported a lack of sleep is directly responsible for diabetes. Fatty acid levels in your blood impact the speed of your metabolism and your insulin’s ability to control blood sugar. During a study of men who only received four hours of sleep over three nights, their levels of fatty acid increased. Their levels increased up to 30% more than men who slept eight and half hours those same three nights.
The John Hopkins University discovered a lack of sleep could increase the speed Alzheimer’s progresses and may even be the cause a person develops the disease. The University based their findings on previous data that proper sleep allows the brain to dispose of ‘cerebral waste’ or buildup that accumulates and causes dementia. Poor sleep patterns showed greater amounts of beta-amyloid on participants PET scans. This increased beta-amyloid has proved to be a marker of Alzheimer’s disease. These PET scans show a lack of sleep does prevent your brain from getting rid of cerebral garbage.
Research has proven you are susceptible to inflammation of the digestive system when you do not receive the proper amount of sleep. This inflammatory bowel disease, Ulcerative Colitis produces ulcers within the lining of your gastrointestinal tract. This disease of the digestive system, as well as Crohn’s Disease, is both related to sleep deprivation or from receiving too much sleep. A study at the Massachusetts General Hospital discovered risks of Ulcerative Colitis increased when participants had six hours of sleep a night or less. This study also showed risks increased if they received nine hours or more a night.
Missing valuable hours of sleep has been linked to an increased risk and severity of prostate cancer. In a study of men between 67 and 96 years of age, developing prostate cancer rose 60% in men who reported they had trouble falling asleep. Men who said they had problems staying asleep and getting a good night of rest showed the risk doubled. The link between sleeping patterns and prostate cancer are attributed to melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone which is supposed to regulate sleep. High levels of this hormone have been found to suppress tumors. Sleep deprivation sufferers are exposed to more artificial light which then results in more aggressive tumor growth.
The rate of suicide has been shown to increase with adults who experience a lack of sleep. A 10-year study was conducted at the Stanford University of Medicine where they studied more than 400 participants. From this group, 20 of the participants who reported having trouble sleeping committed suicide. The results of the survey show adults who lack in sleep are 1.4 times more likely to kill themselves than adults receiving adequate sleep each night.
Numerous studies are out there proving lack of sleep can lead to serious, life-threatening diseases. Sleep is supposed to be one of the most pleasant and relaxing things we do in life that gives our systems a chance to catch up and rejuvenate. It is important that we make sure we are receiving the amount of sleep our bodies need to lead a healthy, active life.