Sleep Deprivation and Its Side Effects

I don’t get enough sleep. There. I’ve said it. Even if I go to bed at a decent time, I don’t drop off immediately. My husband, on the other hand, can go to sleep within a minute. I swear. If I were to time him from putting his head on the pillow and his first snore, I’d need a stop watch! He’s says its from clean living! Ha! I read something this morning that said people with higher IQs have trouble falling to sleep because they have trouble shutting down their brains. I think I’ll be using THAT in our next argument.

However, I was also reading an article on what effects lack of sleep can have on you. I’m sure most of you have felt that disorientation, sluggy feeling from lack of sleep. You need chug more coffee (or your caffeine source of choice!) to stay semi-alert. But that is only a minor consequence. Get these…

According to a study reported at the 2012 SLEEP conference (yes! Who knew there were conference dedicated to sleep!), middle and older adults (*cough* that’d be use *cough*) who get fewer than 6 hours of sleep have a higher risk of stroke, regardless of their stroke history, whether they are overweight or have a history of sleep apnea.  YIKES.

Researchers from Penn State University reviewed studied published between 1996 and 2011 on the relationship between sleep and hunger. What they found was that getting six or few hours of sleep per night was linked to an increase in the ghrelin, a hunger-stimulation hormone, a decrease in insulin sensitivity (a risk factor for diabetes), and a decrease in leptin, a hormone that is key for energy balance and food consumption. In other words, not getting enough sleep is key to overeating and weight gain, as well as an increased risk of developing diabetes.

According to a new study by University of California, Berkeley scientists, not getting enough sleep can effect a person’s ability to retain memories. As we age, the length and quality of our sleep deteriorates. This lack of deep sleep causes ” medial prefrontal cortex gray-matter atrophy.” This means that memories get “stuck” in the part of the brain used for “short-term” storage. These memories don’t get “moved” as they should to the area of the brain key for long-term memory storage, which is what happens when we sleep. So the next day, when new memories are stored in the short-term memory area of the brain, they “over-write” the ones there.

Lack of adequate sleep can lead to osteoporosis, if studies conducted in mice is correct. This could be linked to the importance of sleep in generating bone repair.

The studies are few and the link is being studied, but there appears to be a link between getting fewer than 6 hours of sleep per night and an increased incidence of cancer.

Research shows that people who get less of six hours of sleep per night have a 48% increased risk of dying from or developing heart disease.

One study has found that for younger adults, getting fewer than seven hours of sleep per night on a regular basis, had a higher risk of dying young. That’s right. Not getting enough sleep can kill you.

So, if you’re still awake after reading all these facts and figures, I haven’t done my job. 🙂 My recommendations for you include:

1.  Turn off the television, computer, digital reader at least 30 minutes before going to bed.
2.  Learn to say “no” to people who demand too much of your time…and no, I’m not talking about Shawna’s new baby! 🙂 However, that does bring up #3
3.  Get family members to share the load. Whether that means someone else cleans the kitchen, or puts the kids to bed or whatever, divide the workload.
4.  Keep a sleep chart for a month. Write down how much you slept. See if you have a problem.
5.  If you have a problem going to sleep, or staying asleep, see your doctor. Your life may depend on it.

This has been a health service announcement! 🙂

What tricks and tips can  you share that help you sleep?