Do you toss and turn during the night? Wake up frequently? Suffer from insomnia? Don’t just shrug it off. New studies have shown that a lack of sleep is more than frustrating. It has major consequences on your health. It may age the brain and possibly even shorten your life.
Here at Doueck Dental & Sleep Medicine, we’re concerned about your sleep and your overall health. Here’s a breakdown of health risks that are associated with poor sleep and what can you do about it.
When you don’t sleep enough, your body doesn’t have the ability to make all the hormones it needs to function properly. That’s why when you don’t sleep, your body doesn’t produce enough leptin, a hormone that tells your body, “I’m full, so stop eating.”
However, because you’re tired and need energy, your body tries to compensate by producing more of the hormone called ghrelin. It ramps up your hunger and actually makes you crave sugars and fat, both foods that give your body quick energy. Over time, these hormonal imbalances will cause you to pack on the pounds.
Type 2 diabetes
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, people who suffer from chronic sleep disruption are three times more likely to develop the Type 2 diabetes. Weight gain may play a part in the increased risk because overweight people have a tendency to develop the disorder.
Worse yet, studies also show that people with sleep disruption lose their insulin sensitivity. This means that the pancreas becomes less able to recognize high blood sugar levels and doesn’t create enough insulin to metabolize the sugar. And high blood sugar is the hallmark of diabetes.
The extra weight and insulin issues both contribute to heart disease, but lack of sleep may make it worse. Don’t forget, the heart is a muscle. When you sleep, the heart slows down and rests. However, when it doesn’t get enough rest, it has to work all day even though it’s tired, and it has to work harder. This may drive up blood pressure and can lead to the heart muscle becoming enlarged.
On top of that, loss of sleep contributes to high cortisol levels, which harden the arteries, further raising blood pressure and increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Cortisol also leads to greater inflammation. When the heart and arteries are inflamed, this both raises blood pressure and damages the heart muscle, deepening the risk of heart disease.
Most people recognize that lack of sleep leaves them open to normal colds and flu. The immune system needs rest, and when you don’t get enough, it doesn’t work very efficiently.
But many people forget that the immune system also fights off cancer cells. If your immune system is compromised, you’re at greater risk of developing cancer. In addition, Johns Hopkins researchers have found that there’s a direct correlation between lack of sleep and tumor growth. Lack of sleep inhibits melatonin production, the hormone responsible for sleep. But melatonin also helps your body repair DNA and kill cancer cells.
When you don’t get enough sleep and try to drive, you can be just as impaired as if you’ve had alcohol. According to the World Health Organization, one in five fatal car accidents worldwide is due to tired drivers. Even if you aren’t behind the wheel, fatigue may be responsible for workplace accidents or injuries that occur just while you’re playing around.
But there’s good news. Today there are more ways to ensure that you get a good night’s sleep. Our providers can determine why your sleep is disturbed and create a plan to help you get enough restorative sleep, night after night. Contact our office in Brooklyn, New York, to make your appointment.