Sleep, while one of the most blissful and relaxing things we do to survive, is also one of the most essential. When we close our eyes for those few hours each night, we give our body the chance to recharge after all the stresses of the previous day. Millions of processes go on while you sleep, helping the brain to commit things to memory, while cells go to work regenerating and repairing the tissue that was damaged while we were awake.
When we don’t sleep, however, none of this gets the chance to happen. Not only will we awake feeling cranky the next day and have a difficult time concentrating, prolonged periods of sleep deprivation may have serious consequence on hour health. In fact, ample research has been conducted on exactly what happens to different parts of the body if we are not getting our eight hours each night.
What these studies have found is that lack of sleep can cause a slew of serious and life-threatening conditions, ranging from cancers to diabetes, and heart issues. So what exactly are the conditions that have been officially linked to poor sleeping habits?
1. Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease has been linked to poor sleep for some time now, but a recent study presented at EuroHeartCare, the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology found greater evidence of a strong correlation. After following 657 Russian men between the ages of 25 and 64 for 14 years, researchers found that nearly two-thirds of those who experienced a heart attack also had a sleep disorder.
What’s more, the men that complained of sleep disorders also were found to have a 2.6 times higher risk of myocardial infraction, a heart attack that occurs when the heart muscle dies, and a 1.5 to four times greater risk of stroke.
2. Ulcerative colitis
A research that was conducted in 2014, found a link between increased incidences of suicide in adults and poor sleep, regardless of past history with depression.According to a 10 year study that was conducted by researchers at the Stanford University of Medicine, 420 participants ranging in middle to late adulthood were examined, and out of this group, 20 participants who were suffering from poor sleep unfortunately committed suicide. In other words according to this research those who have difficulty sleeping also have 1.4 times greater risk of committing suicide.
According to this research, white 85 year old males or older, are the most vulnerable to this effect of poor sleep. This research also showed that the health problems and the stress increase with age.
3. Obesity and Diabetes
Numerous studies and scientists have pointed out the relation between poor sleep and diabetes, but a team of researchers at the University of Chicago conducted a study which showed the way poor sleep potentially leads to obesity, and ultimately, causes diabetes.
Experts examined the effects of poor sleep on the accumulation of fatty acids, as the fatty acid levels in the blood affect the speed of and the ability of insulin to regulate blood sugar.
They examined 19 different sleeping patterns of men and found that those who slept for 4 hours for three nights had increased fatty acid levels within their blood between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. which was 15- 30 percent increase over those who slept 8.5 hours every night.
Furthermore, researchers discovered that the increased fatty acid levels led to an increased degree of insulin resistance, which indicates pre-diabetes.
According to a 2013 study conducted by Johns Hopkins University, sleep deprivation can be the cause of Alzheimer`s disease and can affect the speed of the disease’s progression. This study was based on previous research that discovered getting enough sleep is essential for the brain to remove the cerebral waste (garbage-like buildup) that can accumulate and cause dementia.
The study was conducted on 70 adults, ranging between the ages of 53 and 91. The results showed that those who didn`t get enough sleep each night had a greater amount of beta-amyloid deposition in their brains on PET scans. This compound is a definitive marker of Alzheimer’s disease. According to these results, researchers concluded that not getting enough sleep prevents the brain from getting rid of this form of “cerebral waste.”
5. Prostate Cancer
In a 2013 study published within the journal Cancer Epidemology, Biomarkers and Prevention, researchers found an increased incidence and severity of prostate cancer in patients with sleep issues. After following 2,425 Icelandic men between the ages of 67 and 96 for three to seven years, researchers discovered that the danger of developing prostate cancer rose in 60 percent of men who had trouble falling asleep. This number doubled with men who reported having difficulty staying asleep. What’s more, those who experienced sleep problems were also more likely to have later stages of prostate cancer.
Researchers of the study attribute this link to melatonin, a hormone known to regulate sleep. Higher levels of melatonin have been previously founded to suppress tumor growth, while levels of melatonin in those exposed to too much artificial light (a known cause of sleep deprivation) were found to have more aggressive tumor growth.
Shocking results have been shown in a recent study conducted in 2014 about the relation between increased incidences of suicide in adults and sleep deprivation, disregarding the past history with depression. There was a 10-year study conducted by researchers at the Stanford University of Medicine, with 420 participants ranging in middle to late adulthood. Out of this group, 20 participants who suffered from poor sleep unfortunately committed suicide. Therefore, researchers concluded that people with constant lack of sleep were 1.4 times more susceptible to suicide.
Researchers found that the most vulnerable to the effect of lack of sleep were white males 85 years or older. Also, increased rate of suicide attempt as a result of poor sleep was related to health problems and stress that increases with age.