Lose weight. Stop smoking. Exercise at least 20 minutes per day. Eat more vegetables. Sleep at least 8 hours a night. We all know these things can improve our health but let’s take a look at the last one….
We are starting to understand the role sleep plays in our overall health. Not only are the number of hours important, but the quality of those hours is equally so.
4 Hidden Risks of Poor Sleep:
- Weight Gain.
- In a 2004 study, those who slept less than 6 hours a day were almost 30% more likely to become obese versus those who slept 7 to 9 hours. Additionally, more recent studies have honed in on the link between sleep and the hormones that regulate hunger/appetite. Ghrelin triggers hunger in the brain while leptin tells us we are satiated. When you are sleep deprived, your leptin goes down (so your brain tells you that you are not satiated) and your ghrelin goes up (turning you into a hunger machine).
- Premature Aging.
- Ever walked into the office after a night of bad sleep only to have someone ask you, “Are you feeling ok? You don’t look so great.” Most of us have experienced the pale skin and puffy eyes that plague us after a night or two of missed sleep, but did you know that CHRONIC sleep deprivation can speed up the aging process and cause more fine lines and dark circles? Sleep deprivation and poor sleep is linked to higher cortisol and lower HGH levels. In excess, cortisol breaks down the collagen in your skin (which keeps your skin smooth and wrinkle-free)! On the other end of the spectrum, naturally occurring human growth hormone (HGH) thickens your skin and helps it repair. If your levels of HGH are low, your skin will have a harder time repairing from daily damage.
- Increased Risk of Illness.
- Over time, lack of sleep can wear down your immune system. Not getting the proper rest or quality of sleep makes it infinitely harder for your body to do its job to kick that virus to the curb!
- Shortened Life Expectancy.
- Not only did the Whitehall II study (J. Ferrie, 2007) show that shortened sleep at night will double your risk of death from cardiovascular disease, it also revealed that it nearly doubled the risk for all causes of death studied.
Moral of the story, get adequate, quality sleep – your health depends on it!
If you think you may have Obstructive Sleep Apnea or a Sleep Disorder, please contact your physician or dentist to discuss further or use our locator to find one in your area.
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