Did you wake up from a solid night’s sleep? If so, you probably felt refreshed, happy and ready to take on the day! You wake up feeling that way because sleep facilitates all sorts of amazing processes in your body – your brain and body have a chance to rest and recover, your digestive system has had a chance to digest and absorb nutrient. This quality night sleep is something that too many of us miss out on far too often.
Did you toss and turn last night? Wake up to go to the restroom multiple times? Were you disturbed by your bed partner’s snoring? Those poor nights of sleep can cause us to feel moody, fatigued, unmotivated and sluggish. But those temporary effects of sleep deprivation aren’t the only things to worry about. The lack of quality restorative sleep is associated with several chronic health conditions.
Sleep deprivation leads to multiple adverse effects on your body. One of the most damaging is perhaps weight gain, because excess body weight is associated with an unfortunate slew of health complications such as heart disease, hypertension, fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome, and even cancer! Lack of sleep causes changes to the hormones that regulate hunger and appetite thus sleep deprivation influences your cravings. Furthermore, a lack of sleep alters the biology of your fat cells making your body more likely to store fat.
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
Coronary artery disease is where the major blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients in our blood start to narrow and limit the blood supply. As this happens, the supply of oxygen to decreases and can lead to chest pain, shortness of breath or a heart attack. Sleep apnea is a major risk factor for CAD because fragmented sleep can lead to low levels of oxygen in your body (hypoxia), contribute to inflammation and cause pressure changes inside your heart by intrathoracic pressure swings.
High Blood Pressure
Similarly to CAD, high blood pressure is a cardiovascular disease that affects your circulatory system. High blood pressure or hypertension is when your heart has to work harder to pump the blood through your blood vessels. This extra work on your heart can lead to heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure, stroke and many more complications. Research suggests that lack of sleep is a risk factor for high blood pressure. Furthermore, difficulty falling asleep has been related to high blood pressure as well!
Lack of sleep affects diabetes both directly and indirectly. In the direct sense, sleep deprivation causes fluctuations in hormone levels, including insulin – the resistance to which is the main cause of diabetes. Poor sleep changes how your body produces and uses this hormone, which can have detrimental consequences for your blood sugar. Indirectly, the lack of sleep contributes to weight gain and poor lifestyle choices (such as food cravings, lack of exercise due to fatigue) which drive the development of diabetes.
The bottom line – for your overall health, remember, it’s not only how many hours of sleep you’re getting but the quality of sleep!