Millions of people suffer from sleep deprivation. If you can lie down in the middle of the day and fall asleep within ten minutes, then you too are sleep deprived. There are many reasons for this, ranging from too much work to simply staying up too late. Let's take a look at the serious issues that can be caused by sleep deprivation.
1. Impaired glucose tolerance
Without sleep, the central nervous system becomes more active, something that inhibits the pancreas from producing adequate insulin, the hormone the body needs to digest glucose. One study conducted with healthy young men, with no other risk factors, saw them fall into a pre-diabetic state within just one week.
2. Possible link to obesity
Growth hormone (GH) is secreted during the first round of deep sleep. As both men and women age, they naturally spend less time in deep sleep, which lowers GH secretion. Lack of sleep at a younger age, however, could drive down GH prematurely, accelerating as a result the fat-gaining process. In addition, there is also research that indicates a lowering of the hormone testosterone as well, something that would also make the gaining of fat and the loss of muscle and easy thing for the body to do.
3. Increased carbohydrate cravings
This is due to the fact that sleep deprivation negatively affects the production of a hormone called Leptin. Leptin is responsible for telling the body when it is full. However, with decreased production of this hormone, your body will crave calories (especially in the forms of simple carbs / High GI foods) even though its requirements have been met. Not a good situation when you’re trying to stay fit or get leaner!
4. Weakened immune system
Research indicates that sleep deprivation affects adversely the white blood cell count in humans as well as the body’s ability to fight infections.
5. Increased risk of getting breast cancer
Richard Stevens, a cancer researcher in the US, has speculated that there might be a connection between breast cancer and hormone cycles disrupted by late-night light. Melatonin, primarily secreted at night, may trigger a reduction in the body's production of estrogens. But light interferes with melatonin release (since melatonin is secreted in response to a lack of light), allowing estrogen levels to rise. Too much estrogen is known to promote the growth of breast cancers.
6. Decreased alertness and ability to focus
A huge number of recent studies and our personal experiences prove that people who were awake for up to 19 hours scored worse on performance tests and alertness scales than those with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08% – technically legally intoxicated and above the limit for operation of a motor vehicle. Also, this can lead to injury as a result of a lack of alertness and concentration/focus.
7. Hardening of the arteries
Stress imposed on the body due to lack of sleep causes such a very sharp rise in cortisol levels. Such an imbalance can lead to hardening of the arteries, something that can cause a heart attack. In addition, we also know that very high cortisol levels lead to muscle loss, increased fat storage, loss of bone mass, cause depression, cause hypertension, cause insulin resistance (the cells in the body lose the ability to accept insulin), and lower growth hormone and testosterone production.
8. Depression and irritability
Lack of sleep also causes depletion of neurotransmitters in the brain that are in charge of regulating mood. Because of this, sleep-deprived people have a “shorter fuse” and also tend to get depressed more easily.
With less time and space for safe outdoor activities, and more electronics competing for your child&...
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