7 ways lack of sleep can impact your health
Between work, family and other commitments, it's easy to put sleep second to the demands of life. While neglecting sleep can help accomplish tasks in the short term, the long-term effects can have significant repercussions on your health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that one-third of U.S. adults typically get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night. Not only does sleeping poorly simply make you feel bad, it also wreaks havoc on your body. Here are seven common health risks of poor sleep habits.
1. Decreased immunity: People who get less than the recommended amount of sleep are three times more likely to catch a cold. Proper sleep allows your body to efficiently make cytokines, a type of protein that fights infection and inflammation. When you cut back on sleep, you reduce your body's ability to create an effective immune response and increase your chances of becoming ill.
2. Dementia: If you don't log enough hours of quality shuteye, you are 33% more likely to suffer from dementia. The National Sleep Foundations shares that people who have restless, poor sleep are at higher risk of cognitive decline than those who sleep straight through the night.
3. Cardiovascular disease: Individuals who regularly sleep less than the recommended amount are at a 48% higher risk of developing heart disease. Sleep is directly linked to biological processes like glucose metabolism, inflammation, and blood pressure-all of which impact heart health. Conditions such as sleep apnea also directly influence heart health. Less sleep allows less opportunity for the heart to rest, which results in higher blood pressure. The National Sleep Foundation reports men with severe sleep apnea are 58 percent more likely to develop congestive heart failure than men without the disorder.
4. Increased driving risks: Nearly 6,000 fatal car crashes are caused by drowsy driving every year. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who sleep six to seven hours a night are twice as likely to be involved in a crash than are people who sleep eight hours a night.
5. Depression: Depression is commonly linked to eating and sleeping habits. A prevalent symptom of depression is sleep disturbances, but in turn, individuals with insomnia are more likely to develop depressive and anxiety disorders.
6. Obesity: Poor sleep can lead to a 50% higher risk of obesity. According to the CDC, 65% of Americans are overweight or obese. Lack of sleep increases levels of the hunger hormone (ghrelin) and decreases levels of the appetite-control hormone (leptin). This combination leads people to overeat when they are tired and can result in substantial weight gain.
7. Diabetes: Not only does lack of sleep affect hormones in the body, these irregular hormones can eventually lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. They cause difficulty in regulating blood sugar levels, and if left unchecked, the high blood sugar can harm the eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart.
What can I do to improve sleep?
Steps that can help improve the quality and length of your sleep include regular exercise, establishing a consistent sleep routine, and going to bed at the same time every night. It also helps if you avoid heavy meals, strenuous activity, and screen time immediately before going to sleep.
If you've tried to improve your sleep but are still having trouble achieving a full night's rest, you may need medical help. Tell your doctor if you experience:
- Persistent trouble falling or staying asleep
- Excessive fatigue during the day
- Discomfort or pain preventing you from sleeping through the night
- Thoughts of distress, hopelessness, or loss of interest in activities that once gave you pleasure
While stress and changes in routine can be temporary contributing factors to poor sleep, health conditions such as sleep apnea and insomnia can cause insufficient sleep and require professional treatment.
Reid Health's Sleep Disorders Center is available to diagnose and treat sleep disorders. If you are suffering from poor sleep, don't let it affect your health any longer. Contact Reid Health Sleep Disorders Center today or call (765) 983-7966 to schedule an appointment.