Lack of sleep affects our productivity, mood, and energy. This can lead to problems in our personal and professional lives.
Even beyond these problems, a chronic lack of sleep is actually dangerous to your health. Numerous studies have found that people who regularly neglect their sleep are at a higher risk of many different health issues.
If you’re not getting a solid seven to eight hours per night as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation, goals like improving your health, increasing your energy, and even losing weight are going to be an uphill battle. Take a look at some of the issues that can be created or aggravated by sleep deprivation.
Weight gain or trouble losing weight
Successful weight loss requires a complex, multi-faceted approach that is different for each person. Factors like your genes and DNA, hormone levels, chronic inflammation, and nutrient deficiencies all play a role in your weight-loss journey.
Even if you’re doing everything right with regards to diet and exercise, a lack of sleep is going to keep you from meeting your goals. This is because lack of sleep disrupts hormones that control appetite and fullness signals. Studies have shown that lack of sleep increases ghrelin, our hunger hormone.
In addition, you are less likely to exercise and more likely to crave carbs and high-calorie foods when you’re tired. Even the best intentions or “willpower” for weight loss can be quickly sidetracked when you’re exhausted.
Type 2 diabetes
The rates of type 2 diabetes in the U.S. have skyrocketed in recent years. Though there is no single cause of this trend, we do know that lack of sleep plays a major role in this public health crisis.
As discussed above, regularly skipping sleep or getting poor quality sleep disrupts hormone levels. Some of these hormones, including insulin, cannot do their job properly if the body isn’t getting its rest. Without enough insulin, blood sugar levels rise, and over time, this leads to type 2 diabetes.
There is good news: if you start getting more sleep, you can achieve better insulin sensitivity and lower your blood sugar levels. Participants in one study increased their sleep by one hour each night and saw this benefit. This means you may be able to reduce your risk of this serious disease with proper sleep habits.
Weakened immune system
The immune system requires adequate sleep to protect you from illnesses and infections. But when you’re not sleeping, your body immune system can’t do its job — and you can wind up getting sick.
Studies have shown a distinct connection between quality of sleep and the ability of the immune system to fight off illness. While you may think you can skimp on sleep to get more done, you could wind up even further behind if you catch a cold or flu virus!
Other health issues
Beyond the problems listed here, long-term sleep deprivation is also linked to:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Greater risk of accidents
- Mood changes
- Problems with focus and memory
If you commit to getting better sleep, you’ll not only feel better — you’ll be taking an important step toward a healthier you.
Trying to lose weight, but not seeing the results you want? Our customized weight loss plans at Garcia Weight Loss and Wellness Centers could be just what you need to finally meet those goals. Contact us today for your no-cost consultation!
Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on April 29, 2019