Did you know that a lack of shut eye could actually be hurting your health?
Sleep is an irreplaceable recovery period that allows your body to rest, heal and regenerate without external interruption.
Although everyone has slightly different needs when it comes to getting adequate amounts of sleep, seven to nine hours per night is generally recommended.
We're all guilty of the occasional late night TV binge or celebratory night out. Pulling an all-nighter here and there probably won’t cause much harm to your health, but when you continually begin to skimp on sleep, it can cause some serious health problems over time.
In our modern, quick-paced society, we often feel pressured to “do it all” and fit as much into our schedules as humanly possible. Society today makes it very easy to push those extra few hours of sleep to the side and neglect this important aspect of our health.
It’s essential to remind ourselves often that our healthy diet, exercise regimen and holistic supplements will not be able to keep us healthy long-term if we are chronically sleep deprived.
Over time, chronic sleep loss has been shown in some studies to increase your risk of life-threatening illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and depression. It's been estimated that about 75-90% of people with insomnia have at least one other health condition. Pretty shocking, right?
Lack of sleep can affect the body’s ability to fight off viruses and infections, wearing down your immune system over time and leaving you much more susceptible to getting sick. The effects of sleep deprivation will also result in longer illness recovery times.
One study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that out of the 153 volunteers they studied for 14 days, those getting less than seven hours of sleep per night were almost three times as likely to catch a cold than those getting eight or more hours.
Some studies have found that prolonged sleep deprivation can actually shorten your lifespan, sometimes pretty substantially.
One study in particular known as the Whitehall II Study concluded that getting less than five hours of sleep per night nearly doubled a person’s risk of dying from cardiovascular disease (the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC).
Another data analysis of three sleep deprivation studies concluded that consistently getting five or less hours of sleep per night could increase mortality risk by up to 15 percent.
Have you ever noticed that you feel hungrier on days when you haven’t gotten enough sleep? This is due to the fact that when you’re body isn’t properly rested, it can throw appetite-controlling hormones such asghrelin and leptin out of balance, slowing your metabolism and impairing insulin sensitivity.
When you’re feeling exhausted, you’re much less likely to watch what you’re eating and instead seek comfort in sugary, greasy, and fatty foods.
One clinical study found that people getting less than six hours of sleep per night had a 30 percent higher chance of gaining weight or becoming obese than people getting six to nine hours.
Your skin is one of the biggest visible indicators of your overall health. This means that when you’re chronically fatigued, your skin will be the first place to show signs of sleep deprivation. Puffy, swollen eyes, fine lines, wrinkles, sallow skin, and dark circles can all be the result of sleep loss.
Sleeping (especially deep “slow-wave sleep”) allows your skin to repair itself and thicken by producing human growth hormones. These growth hormones slow as we age and play an essential role in overnight tissue repair.
Skimping on sleep can cause your body to release more of the stress hormone cortisol. Excess cortisol can damage skin by breaking down collagen, the most essential protein for maintaining smooth, elastic skin.
It goes without saying that sleep is absolutely crucial in order for your brain to function optimally. Sleep deprivation can impair memory, focus, and overall cognitive functioning. This is because the “sharp wave ripples” produced most frequently during sleep are vital for memory consolidation.
Over time, sleep loss can also affect the brain’s ability to eliminate the plaque-forming proteins that lead to neurodegenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer's.
One report in the Journal of Neuroscience found that getting five or less hours of sleep can begin to damage or kill brain cells after just three consecutive days of sleep loss.
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