The importance of getting a good night’s sleep–normally between six to eight hours–should never be underestimated. Sleep is essential, as it affects how we feel, look, and perform on a daily basis. While we sleep, the body is conducting a number of activities, including growth, cell repair, and boosting the immune system. Not to mention, sleep restores energy and impacts our overall quality of life.
If you think lack of sleep isn’t a serious matter, you might want to think again. A lack of sleep can cause a wide array of severe issues and cause people to feel cranky, be less focused and more forgetful. Here are six conditions that are brought on by a lack of sleep that you should keep an eye on.
Sleep is necessary for the brain to export cerebral waste to prevent it from accumulating and causing dementia and other illnesses like Alzheimer’s. According to a recent study published in the JAMA Neurology journal, researchers from Johns Hopkins discovered that little sleep or poor quality of sleep is linked to Alzheimer’s disease and can even influence its progression. The study followed 70 adults between the ages of 53 and 91.
Participants with poor sleep habits were found to have higher quantities of beta-amyloid deposition in their brains, according to PET scans. Ultimately, researchers concluded that poor sleep prevented the brain from clearing beta-amyloid waste that leads to cerebral disease.
- Obesity And Diabetes
According to researchers from the University of Chicago, a link between poor sleep and obesity has been discovered that ultimately leads to diabetes. The study found that little sleep led to fatty acid build-up, which impacts both metabolism and insulin sensitivity.
The study analysed the sleep patterns of 19 male participants over three nights, and researchers found that men who only slept for four hours had fatty acid blood levels 15 to 30 percent higher than participants who slept 8.5 hours a night. Those who slept for less time also showed signs of prediabetes and obesity, while those who slept more showed no signs.
- Cardiovascular Disease
Little sleep is among the leading causes of heart attack and stroke, and since cardiovascular disease is highly influenced by diet and lifestyle, it’s no surprise poor sleep is the culprit. The European Society of Cardiology presented evidence in their annual meeting that sleep directly affects your risk of heart disease.
Their study followed 657 Russian men between the ages of 24 and 64 for 14 years and found that two-thirds of those who had heart attacks also suffered from sleeping disorders. Those with poor sleep were also found to have a 2.6 greater risk of myocardial infarction, which is a heart attack caused by the heart muscle dying. They also had a 1.5 to four times greater risk of stroke.
Lack of sleep is also known to cause serious mental health problems. According to a 2014 study, a link between incidences of suicide in adults and poor sleep was discovered, regardless of previous depression symptoms.
The 10-year Stanford University of Medicine study closely examined 420 young and middle-aged adults. Unfortunately, the study found that from the 420 participants, 20 men who experienced poor sleep committed suicide. Chronic lack of sleep was also found to be linked to a 1.4 times higher risk of committing suicide.
- Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that causes long-lasting inflammation and ulcers in the digestive tract, according to the Mayo Clinic. Studies have found that colitis, along with Crohn’s disease, is correlated with sleep deprivation.
In a 2014 study published by researchers from Massachusetts General, scientists closely studied women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) I since 1976 and NHS II since 1989, and found that women who slept for six hours or less, despite risk factors such as age, weight, smoking, and drinking, were more likely to suffer from ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s. While little sleep affected the women, too much sleep also put the women at risk, which meant that getting the right amount of sleep every night is key to avoiding inflammation in the digestive tract.
- Prostate Cancer
A study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention found that sleep is incredibly helpful for protecting the prostate. The study followed 2,425 Icelandic 67 to 96-year-olds for three to seven years and closely examined their sleeping patterns. Men who suffered from sleeping troubles were 60 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer, while those who had trouble staying asleep were nearly 120 percent more likely to be affected by the disease and also experienced an aggressive form of the disease. Researchers concluded that prostate cancer was affected by melatonin and also noted that additional studies proved that higher levels of melatonin helped suppress tumor growth.