Good Night, Sleep Tight...How Your Sleep Can Impact Your Health

Sadly, no one really gives much thought to getting a good night’s sleep. However, sleep does much more than soften the dark circles under your eyes. Sleep is essential to you health. In fact, it is just as important as eating, drinking, and breathing.

According to the American Sleep Association 35% of adults in the U.S. get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep in a twenty-four hour period. That means that over one third of adult Americans are walking around in a sleep deprived state.

Although it can be tempting in the fast paced world we live in to sacrifice sleep in order to have more waking hours, the consequences of sleep deprivation can be devastating. The list below contains potential long term health risks of insufficient sleep.

  • Weakens Immune Response: While you sleep, your body produces infection fighting antibodies, which helps to keep your immune system in tip top shape. Your immune system also releases proteins called cytokines while you sleep. Without sufficient sleep, production of antibodies and cytokines decrease leaving you more susceptible to the common cold, as well as other serious chronic illnesses.  
  • Increased Risk of Obesity: Insufficient sleep can upset Ghrelin and Leptin levels (both of these are hormones which communicate with your brain about how much food to eat), causing you to eat more food. Sleep deprivation impairs insulin sensitivity causing fat storage to be increased. Eating more food and storing more fat is a perfect set up for obesity which also increases your risk for other chronic health problems.
  • Upsets Digestive System: As little as two nights of insufficient sleep can reduce beneficial bacteria in the gut by almost 50%. Disrupting the beneficial gut bacteria can inhibit vitamin absorption, upset hormonal balance, disturb brain function, disrupt proper digestion, and weaken the immune system.
  • Slows Brain function: Sleep is also essential for our brains to function. Sleep aids in memory, cognitive function, attention, focus, and concentration. While you sleep, your brain essentially empties all the metabolic trash of the day. Without sufficient sleep, metabolic sludge builds up in the brain hindering the brain’s ability to function properly.
  • Mood Changes: A lack of sleep can make you moody, emotional, and irritable, eventually leading to anxiety and depression.

Remember sleep is not just for beauty...sleep is also vital for healing the body and achieving better health.

Janet Steward