Everyone’s pulled an all-nighter at some point in their lives, and experienced the side effects of not getting enough sleep – the crankiness, difficulty concentrating, and fatigue. But what are the long-term consequences of missing sleep?
There has been a lot of new research recently on the subject, presenting us with new reasons not to skip that essential 8 hours a night. If you’ve ever wondered whether or not sleep is really that important, read on.
1. Sleep And Alzheimer’s Disease
In 2013, a study from John Hopkin’s University found that lack of sleep may not only be a contributing factor in whether or not a person develops Alzheimer’s disease, but it can also speed the disease’s progression. Sleep, it turns out, is essential in helping the brain to eliminate cerebral waste, which can accumulate in the brain and cause dementia(1).
“These findings are important in part because sleep disturbances can be treated in older people,” one researcher on the study said.
“To the degree that poor sleep promotes the development of Alzheimer’s disease, treatments for poor sleep or efforts to maintain healthy sleep patterns may help prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.”
2. Sleep And Obesity
There’s solid evidence of a link between poor sleep and diabetes, but a recent study from the University of Chicago has shown that poor sleep can also cause obesity – a leading factor in the development of type 2 diabetes. Fatty acid levels in the blood impact how quickly or slowly your metabolism functions, as well as the production of insulin – and sleep has a huge impact on fatty acid buildup. Less sleep equals more fatty acid buildup, which means a less efficient metabolism(2).
3. Sleep And Heart Disease
People with sleep disorders are at an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease, according to research presented at EuroHeartCare, an annual meeting of the Eurpean Society of Cardiology.
“Sleep disorders are very closely related to the presence of cardiovascular diseases,” one researcher said in a press release describing a recent population-based cohort study which was presented at the conference.(3)
“Sleep is not a trivial issue. In our study [sleep deprivation] was associated with double the risk of a heart attack and up to four times the risk of stroke. Poor sleep should be considered a modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease along with smoking, lack of exercise and poor diet.”
4. Sleep And Ulcreative Colitis
Ulcreative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease which causes ulcers in the digestive tract. It and Crohn’s disease may both be a product of disordered sleep – either too much or too little sleep, according to a 2014 study from Massachusets General Hospital(4). The study showed that just the right amount of sleep was needed to curb the inflammatory responses associated with both diseases.
5. Sleep And Cancer Risk
Sleep disorders may also increase your risk of certain cancers, most notably prostate cancer, one 2013 study suggests. The study followed nearly 2500 Icelandic men for a period of three to seven years, monitoring their sleep patterns and habits. What they found was that men with sleep disorders and men who had difficulty sleeping had nearly double the rates of prostate cancer, and experienced more severe and aggressive forms of prostate cancer, than men who regularly got enough sleep(5).
Getting Enough Sleep
If that doesn’t convince you to get enough sleep, consider the potential mental health impact of not getting enough sleep. Hallucinations, depression, anxiety, and even psychosis are potential side effects of prolonged sleep deprivation. So it’s important to make sure that you’re sleeping not only regularly, but well.
You can do this by maintaining good sleep hygiene – going to bed at a consistent time each night, making sure you don’t spend to much time reading in bed, and above all, leaving your phone, tablet, and laptop outside of the bedroom! If you’re still having trouble sleeping, breathing exercises and mild herbal sedatives like chamomile may help induce sleep.
Natural Solutions For Sleeping Better
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