Insufficient sleep is a bad thing and a deterent to overall total health. For instance, Dr. Joseph Bass from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Dr. Fred W. Turek from Northwestern University in Illinois, noted “insufficient sleep could be leading to a cascade of disorders,” and among these disorders are “insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia [high cholersterol], cardiovascular disease, hypertension [high blood pressure], stroke, cancer, and arthritis.”
A sleep study published in 2008 by Duke University researchers from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, found an increased risk for coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and hypertension in women who took longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep at least twice a week. Women who experienced these sleep problems had higher inflammatory proteins (related to heart disease), higher fibrinogen (related to clotting and heart disease), and higher insulin levels (related to diabetes).
Too little sleep also affects weight. A study published in 2005 and conducted by Robert D. Vorona, looked at the sleep patterns of both men and women. Vorona found “total sleep time decreased as [body mass index] BMI increased.” (If you want to know your BMI read How Much Belly Fat is Too Much.) The study found that on average, men sleep 27 minutes less than women each night. They also found that if a person sleeps 20 minutes more a night it resulted in a BMI decrease.
Another study conducted in 2006 found sleep restriction resulted in modest weight gain. In this study 68,183 nurses who had sleep problems were followed for 16 years—from 1986 to 2002. Sanjay R. Patel of Harvard Medical School, who conducted the study, found there was an association between lack of sleep and weight gain. Women who slept 5 hours or less gained 2.5 pounds more than women who slept 7 hours, and women who slept 6 hours gained 1.6 pounds.
Besides health problems and weight gain, Eve Van Cauter of the University of Chicago maintains, “Lack of sleep disrupts every physiologic function in the body. We have nothing in our biology that allows us to adapt to this behavior.” In addition, scientists have become convinced that sleep disorders, such as chronic insomina or narcolepsy endanger health. Difficulty sleeping is a warning that things aren’t right, and Alexandros N. Vgontzas of Pennslyvania State noted, “Based on our findings, we believe that if you lose sleep that your body needs, then you produce these inflammatory markers that on a chronic basis can create low-grade inflammation and predispose you … to a shorter life span.”
To make sure you’re life’s a nice long one and that you enjoy total health, there are many things you can do to start getting a good’s night sleep. To learn more read How to Not Count Sheep and Sleep.