Here I am writing a column on sleep after a very active week where once again, I shortchanged my sleep cycles. If you're like me, being active and busy can take a daily toll on getting enough hours of needed sleep. So what is the real health cost when you trade sleep time for lifestyle requirements?
There are so many new sleep studies that are worth looking at to get a clear understanding of the impact that comes from improper amounts of sleep. All this further research paints a pretty scary picture around lack of sleep that will make you rethink your sleep habits and perhaps push you to get more shut-eye.
Here are a few concerning issues around lack of proper sleep:
• Both adults and children who have a long-term pattern of insufficient sleep and poor sleep habits have a higher risk of developing a chronic illness.
• There is in-depth research that has proven children who lack proper sleep are at a higher risk for Type 2 Diabetes. Research found in children that too little sleep leads to a higher body mass index and higher insulin resistance in preteen kids.
• Neurological disorders tied to poor or disrupted sleep patterns have increased significantly in the last 20 years. Some studies suggest that our overexposure to blue light emitted by technology screens play a significant role in sleep disruption. Blue light from laptops, tablets, and smartphones suppresses melatonin production and changes your circadian rhythm. Mental health professionals also link these issues to the increased trend in moderate to severe depression.
• Recently, studies have linked a 65% higher risk of early mortality for people who consistently get five or fewer hours of sleep each night. Sleep more rather then less, it may extend your life expectancy.
• Inadequate sleep seems to be associated with an increase in the brain protein linked to Alzheimer's. Recently, research was published in a 2018 study from the NIH that has linked sleep deprivation with these higher levels of the protein beta-amyloid which is a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.
• Sleeping less can lead to weight gain. It seems that people on average that did not get enough sleep consume more calories during the day.
• Poor nutrition, low in fiber, high in empty carbohydrates such as sugars and consumption of trans/hydrogenated bad fat can impact your sleep. Studies have shown that high-fat and sugary foods eaten throughout the day can disrupt crucial phases of the sleep process. These poor food choices can cause you to wake up periodically during the night, shorting your body's much needed restorative aspect of the sleep cycle.
• Lack of sleep is linked to an increase in heart disease and stroke. Some studies have concluded that reduced hours of needed sleep over time can lead to a higher risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke.
It is important to point out that not everyone needs a full eight hours of sleep, but the healthy average for adults is between 7 and 8 hours consistently. A very recent study has found that you can, in fact, catch up on sleep in short periods of time. If you have a particularly tough week lacking in enough sleep, you can counter this by sleeping more over the weekend. However, chronic lack of sleep and persistent poor sleep habits have a devastating cumulative effect on most people over time. It all comes down to work, play and sleep balance, so find your sweet spot on hours of sleep needed and make it happen more often than not.
A recognized health and wellness presenter, fitness trainer and now primal health coach in the Inland Northwest. Now in his eighth year of bringing health and wellness through his writing, teaching and coaching, Judd delivers his well-rounded message of mindfulness, nutrition and fitness to readers and clients alike.