Sleep and your Health

In a study published in the Lancet in 1999, researchers found that sleeping only a few hours a night (4 to 6 hours) can hinder metabolism and hormonal production in a way that is similar to the effects of aging and much like the early stages of diabetes. Chronic sleep loss increases the risk of type 2  diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and even memory loss.

Other studies  have shown numerous connections between lack of sleep and  health problems including the following;

  • Disruption of hormones and proteins
  • Insufficient or irregular sleep raises the risk of colon cancer, breast cancer, and heart disease
  • A sleep deficit may put your body into a state of high alert, which increase levels of stress hormones like cortisol, and can drive up blood  pressure.
  • Melatonin levels are lowered with a lack of sleep. Melatonin is  important in the regulation of the body’s circadian rhythms and also has a role as a  pervasive and powerful antioxidant.
  • Even mild sleep deprivation (5-6 hours a night) disrupts the levels of the  hormones ghrelin and leptin, which regulate appetite. Sleep-deprived people tend to have problems regulating their blood sugar, which can lead to sugar cravings which make proper weight regulation much more difficult.

In addition to the total hours of sleep, the timing of your sleep is also important. In response to light, our hormonal systems release stress/activating hormones with a peak around  mid-morning. As the day progresses, the levels of stress hormones decrease and the levels of growth and repair hormones increase. Between 10pm and 2am, physical repair of our bodies is taking place while psychogenic repair takes place between 2am and 6am. The longer we postpone sleep, our natural hormonal rhythms are disturbed and we  deprive the body of much needed physical repair.

Sleep is the most essential form of restoration and continually depriving your body of sleep can have profound negative consequences for your health. Make sure to get to bed before 10:30 pm and make sure to give your body a chance to “unwind” before bed time. For more sleep tips, check out our post on helpful sleep tips.