A bad night’s rest can leave us feeling utterly sick the following day. A bad mood, a lack of energy, a desire to overeat, an incapability to focus, and so much more can result from tossing and turning in the sheets all night long. The fact that just one night off can wreak havoc on our bodies says a lot about how essential sleeping is for our health.
When we sleep, we not only allow our bodies to relax, recharge, and follow through with millions of intricate and important processes that aid the brain in achieving long term memory, while cells regenerate and repair tissue damaged throughout the day. When we don’t sleep enough, or sleep at all, we hinder our health by keeping it from executing these important steps. Research has even found that a lack of sleep can result in various life-threatening conditions.
1. Obesity and Diabetes
According to researchers at the University of Chicago, fatty acids hinder the speed of your metabolism, along with the ability to regulate blood sugars. In their study, they found that those who lacked sleep had a fatty acid buildup, causing their metabolisms to slow down, whereas those who slept enough didn’t have higher fatty acid levels.
Researchers concluded that the increase of fatty acids resulted in greater insulin resistance, which, along with a slowed metabolism that can cause obesity, is also attributed to pre-diabetes.
A 2013 study out of John Hopkins University found that too little sleep can cause Alzheimer’s, while an ongoing lack of sleep can hasten the progression of the disease. The researchers found that those who experienced poor sleep each night had a greater amount of beta-amyloid buildup in their brains on PET scans. This compound is a known marker of the disease.
The researchers concluded that sleep was essential for getting rid of “cerebral waste,” which can cause dementia when accumulated.
3. Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease has long been linked to poor sleep, and now another study proves the close connection. Researchers followed 657 Russian men between the ages of 25 and 64 for 14 years and discovered that nearly two thirds of the men who suffered heart attacks also had sleep disorders.
Even more alarming is that the men who reported having sleep disorders were also found to have a 2.6 times higher risk of myocardial infraction, which is a heart attack that occurs when the heart muscle dies. They were also found to have a 1.5 to four times greater risk of stroke.
4. Ulcerative Colitis
This common inflammatory bowel disease causes ulcers in the lining of the body’s digestive tract. According to a study conducted by NHS, the disease can be triggered by a lack of, as well as an excessive amount of, sleep. Researchers discovered that, when people got less than six, or more than nine hours of sleep each night, they suffered a greater risk of contracting ulcerative colitis.
It’s important to note that these results were only found within adult women. Nonetheless, the chances of developing the disease occurred regardless of other factors such as age, weight, and lifestyle choices like smoking and drinking.
In 2014, researchers discovered an unfortunate connection between a lack of sleep and suicidal thoughts in adults, even if they were not reported to experience depression. The study, out of Stanford University of Medicine, was conducted over a 10-year time period, examining 420 participants, and 20 of those who had difficulty sleeping took their lives during the course of the study.
According to the researchers, the most vulnerable of those who reported poor sleep were white males 85 years or older.
6. Prostate Cancer
Researchers of a 2013 study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention discovered a higher rate and seriousness of prostate cancer in patients with sleep issues. The study, which examined more than 2,o00 men from Iceland between the ages of 67 and 96 for 3 years, concluded that men who didn’t sleep enough had a 60 percent greater chance of developing prostate cancer. This number doubled in those who had a tough time staying asleep.
According to the researchers, this link is the result of melatonin suppression, since melatonin both allows for better sleep quality as well as represses tumour growth.