Not Getting Enough Zzz’s? How Lack of Sleep Could Harm Your Health
Are you getting the sleep you need? Could lack of sleep be harming your health? The aftereffects of too little sleep, such as feeling irritable and not being able to focus at work, are well-known. But ongoing sleep deprivation can also have profound health consequences. During Sleep Awareness Week, observed March 11-17, 2018, RediClinic encourages you to take stock of your sleep habits and determine if you need to make changes to improve your health.
The Effects of Poor Sleep on Health
Scientists have extensively studied sleep and the benefits it provides, and studies suggest that sleep plays a vital role in immune function, metabolism, learning, memory and other critical body functions. Conversely, when people do not get enough sleep, all of these functions are negatively affected. According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, the consequences of chronic sleep deprivation can include:
- Weight gain and obesity. Studies have shown that individuals who regularly sleep less than six hours per night are far more likely to have a higher body mass index than those who sleep eight hours. Hormones that regulate metabolism and appetite are released during sleep. Getting too little sleep upsets this balance.
- Diabetes. The body processes glucose during sleep, therefore lack of sleep causes the body to process glucose more slowly. When too much glucose stays in the bloodstream, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and related heart disease increases.
- Heart disease. Researchers have found that a night of poor sleep can lead to elevated blood pressure throughout the following day. This may be why those who don’t get enough sleep are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease.
- Early death. A study found that people who frequently slept for less than six hours a night were 12% more likely to die prematurely than those who consistently got the recommended amount of sleep.
How Much Sleep Is Enough?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the largest physician-based organization dedicated to sleep medicine, offers the following recommendations on the right amount of sleep.
- For optimal health, adults should regularly sleep at least seven hours per night.
- Regularly sleeping more than nine hours per night may be appropriate for young adults, individuals recovering from sleep debt and those who are ill.
- Those concerned they are sleeping too little or too much should consult a healthcare provider.
RediClinic Is Here to Help
If you have concerns about your sleep habits or any other health concern, talk to a board-certified clinician at RediClinic. We also offer diabetes testing, heart health tests and many other screenings to help you check for diseases and maintain good health.