Sleep is one of the most important aspects of human life. Quality sleep is vital to our overall physical and mental health and it is how your body recuperates and replenishes its energy. Sleeping is the time when many regenerating processes are occurring inside your body, mainly repairing damaged cells and tissue, as well as helping the brain sort out important information it has acquired throughout the day.
Whereas, lack of quality sleep, causes all of the aforementioned processes to be inhibited and many of them to remain uncompleted. That’s the reason we wake up groggy and cranky and have low energy levels all day, and not only that, but it’s very likely you will start having lots of side effects, which in the long-term can have serious negative effects on your health.
Current research has shown that lack of sleep is the reason for numerous, sometimes life-endangering conditions such as diabetes, types of cancer and heart diseases. Here are the 6 most common conditions which may appear when you don’t get enough sleep:
Numerous studies over the years have confirmed the relation between sleep deprivation and various heart diseases. A recent study has confirmed and presented the most reliable evidence for the strong link at the ‘EuroHeartCare’, which is the annual event of the European Society of Cardiology.
The study was done over a course of fourteen years, in which a team of scientists that was watching 650 men aged between 25 and 65, has found that around two-thirds of all those who had a heart attack also had inconsistent sleep patterns.
They also found that those who were suffering from sleep deprivation were four times as likely to have a stroke and twice as likely to have a heart attack.
As proven by recent studies, a lack of sleep and even too much sleep can cause ulcerative colitis, a condition in which the bowels are inflamed and ulcers appear on the walls of the digestive tract. It was also shown that sleep deprivation can cause Crohn’s disease.
Studies concerned mainly with sleep problems have repeatedly confirmed that getting enough sleep every night is essential to stopping inflammation inside the bowels which is the main cause of the aforementioned diseases.
One particular study was done on female subjects and found that the chances of getting ulcerative colitis were significantly increased as the amount of sleep were decreased to six hours per night or less.
What’s even more interesting is that they found that even too much sleep can increase the risk. Getting more than nine hours of sleep was the upper threshold, which makes us draws the logical conclusion that moderate amounts of sleep of around eight hours per night are the only means to prevent these conditions.
As previously mentioned, the study was limited to adult female subjects, which doesn’t necessarily mean that the same results wouldn’t appear if the study was done on male subjects. In any case, higher risk of getting ulcerative colitis when experiencing a lack of sleep was there in spite of the other factors such as age, weight and the existence of unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking alcohol.
Diabetes and obesity
Research over the years, as well as many nutrition scientists, have confirmed the link between diabetes and sleep deprivation. One particular study showed how our inconsistent sleep or lack of it, can, in the long-term, make us obese to the point of causing us to become diabetic.
They wanted to examine how sleep deprivation can affect the speed of storing fat tissue since blood fatty acid levels have an effect on how quickly and efficiently insulin regulates blood sugar levels.
The researchers in the study were examining nineteen different sleep patterns and found that the men sleeping for four hours three nights in a row had their blood fatty acid levels increased between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. which was actually a 15 to 30 percent increase in comparison to those sleeping eight and a half hours each night.
What’s more, they further discovered that increased levels of fatty acids caused increased insulin resistance, which is the main indicator of the early onset of diabetes.
A study that was done in 2013 at Johns Hopkins University found that sleep deprivation may cause Alzheimer’s disease and can even be a factor in how fast it progresses. The study itself was based on research done previously that found that sleep plays a vital role in the brain’s health. It is a time when the brain gets rid of all the unnecessary information and “waste” which if left unchecked can over time accumulate and cause dementia.
The study was done on sixty adults aged between 50 to 90 and has found that sleep deprivation every night increased the depositing of beta-amyloid in the subjects’ brains when checked on a PET scan. Beta-amyloid has been proven to be a definitive indicator of the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease, which means that sleep deprivation is preventing the brain from removing this type of compound.
A study was done in 2013 which proved that patients who had poor sleeping habits were much more likely to develop an aggressive form of prostate cancer. The study was done on Island, subjects were 2400 men aged between 60 and 90 and it lasted 7 years. It found that the chances of getting prostate cancer were increased by 60 percent with those who suffered from insomnia.
This number doubled for those who had trouble staying asleep. What’s more, those who had sleeping problems also had increased the risk to have prostate cancer in the later stages of development. The reason for why this is happening was given to melatonin, which is the hormone that regulates sleep.
Having high levels of melatonin were proven to inhibit the growth of tumors, while the levels of melatonin in those who were exposed to high amounts of artificial light, also one of the main causes of sleep deprivation, were found to cause a faster and more aggressive growth of tumors.
A study done in 2014 confirmed the link between increased suicide rates in adults and sleep deprivation, no matter if they had a previous history of depression. Scientists at the Stanford University of Medicine did a study lasting for ten years, involving more than 400 subjects aged between 30 and 40.
Twenty of those subjects that suffered from sleep deprivation, committed suicide, which led the researchers to draw a conclusion that those who had poor sleeping habits on a consistent basis were 1.5 times more likely to end their life.
The interesting find was that those who were the most likely to commit suicide due to sleep deprivation were Caucasian males, 80 years or older. Researchers believed this was due to poor sleeping habits related to various age-related health issues and stress that increased with old age.