Everyone knows that not getting enough sleep can make you short-tempered and moody. You may have even noticed that you struggle to pay attention or remember things when you are over-tired. But these side effects are generally short-lived and unlikely to impact more than a day or two of your life. Unfortunately, if you string too many sleepless nights together, you are opening yourself up to a wide range of serious health hazards that can impact the rest of your life. The next time you are trying to decide whether or not you should skip some sleep in favor of something else, remember these hazards and make the right choice for your overall health.
Heart Disease and Cardiovascular Problems
A study published in 2010 in the journal Sleep found that people who sleep less than 7 hours of sleep a night on average had an increased risk of heart disease. The study used data from the 2005 National Health Interview Study which included 30,397 people to find correlations between the amount of sleep people got and the prevalence of heart disease. This study also showed that women who were under the age of 60 and got less than 5 hours sleep a night had twice the risk for these problems than others.
A study conducted this year at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands and published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that getting adequate sleep and exercise can significantly reduce the risk of developing heart disease. The team found that getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night when paired with a healthy diet and a moderate level of exercise reduced the risk for heart disease by 65%.
Another study conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham showed that sleeping less than 6 hours a night increased the risk of suffering from a stroke.
Obesity and Diabetes
Various studies have shown that there is a strong link between not getting enough sleep and an increased risk for obesity and diabetes. One study from Diabetes Care (http://www.uab.edu/news/latest/item/2483-sleep-debt-hikes-risk-of-stroke-symptoms-despite-healthy-bmi) found that not getting enough sleep may be an independent risk factor for developing diabetes.
Other research has shown that not getting enough sleep affects hormonal balances, glucose tolerance, and even the food choices we make. All of the factors contribute to obesity and diabetes.
Although there is still questions as to the source of the link between lack of sleep and an increased risk for certain types of cancer, research has shown that simply losing sleep can make you more susceptible to specific types of cancer. A study published in the British Journal of Cancer established a link between getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night and an increased risk of breast cancer in women. Another study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention found a link between sleep duration and prostate cancer risk. The increased risk for cancer may be linked to increases in inflammation and suppression of the immune system that can be present after sleep loss.
- Can Lack of Sleep Cause High Blood Pressure? (valleysleepcenter.com)
- 8 Signs Your Teen Isn’t Getting the Sleep they Need (valleysleepcenter.com)
- The Secret to Sleeping Soundly (valleysleepcenter.com)