Getting enough sleep isn’t just important to our alertness each day — a significant lack of sleep can lead to a number of low- to high-risk health issues. Some of these issues are as innocuous as mild weight gain. Others are highly dangerous, such as a heart attack.
Greater susceptibility to viruses
The common refrain about how it is easier for people to get sick when they are exhausted has some basis in science. In 2009, a study published in Archives of Internal Medicine described how researchers oversaw the sleep habits of 153 subjects (male and female) over the course of two weeks. Once that baseline was achieved, the men and women in the study were quarantined for five days. After quarantine, they were each exposed to cold viruses, and the results showed the subject group that slept less than seven hours each night became sick at a rate of three times that of the subject group that averaged eight or more hours.
Increase in body weight
A 2008 review article, published in the Obesity journal, analyzed 36 separate studies about body weight and sleep duration. Again, their findings were clear. A lack of sleep makes people susceptible to weight gain. What’s more, this link is strongest amongst children! Sleep loss affects the hormones that control appetite (and hunger in general). Also made clear; one of the effects of lack of sleep, daytime tiredness, resulted in kids not wanting to engage in physical play activities.
The resulting weight gain compounded the risk of a variety of different health issues, such as many listed below.
More prevalent diabetes rates
Insomnia was found to create a spike in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This according to a 2009 report found in Diabetes Care. In fact, when compared to people with no sleep complaints who received at least six hours of sleep each night, the risk for type 2 diabetes was three times higher for people who had suffered from insomnia for at least a year and got fewer than five hours of sleep each night. Thus suggesting that the root cause of this higher diabetes rate is an alteration in the patients’ normal regulation of their hormones related to sleep loss.
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More likely to develop high blood pressure
The same researchers who put together the above diabetes report also analyzed the risk of high blood pressure in their same randomly chosen sample (more than 1,700 men and women who lived in rural Pennsylvania). In their 2009 article found in the Sleep journal, they discovered that the risk of developing high blood pressure was 3.5 times higher in subjects who frequently received fewer than six hours of sleep each night. As compared to healthier sleepers who received six or more hours of sleep each night.
Higher heart disease rates
The link between short-term sleep loss and different heart disease risk factors (higher blood pressure, higher cholesterol levels, higher triglyceride levels, etc.) has been documented in several studies.
In a 2009 issue of Sleep, there was a report documenting sleep habits and their health effects on more than 98,000 Japanese men and women. This group was followed for more than 14 years, and in that period, researchers found that women who routinely received four or fewer hours of sleep were twice as likely to die from heart disease as women who frequently got seven hours of sleep.
Sleep Apnea Behind Lack Of Sleep
It is also well documented that sleep apnea — a common contributing factor to poor sleep in which a person’s breathing becomes shallow each night (and in some cases even stops for long periods)— can raise the risk of heart disease. Over the course of 18 years of subject follow-ups, the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort study showed how people with severe sleep apnea were three times more likely to die of heart disease when compared to people who didn’t suffer from sleep apnea. That risk escalated to five times when researchers removed subjects who used breathing machines. What’s more, sleep apnea also increases stroke and heart failure risks.
Greater levels of depression
Lack of sleep can also contribute to higher levels of depression. In a 1,000-person study of young adults (ages 21–30), it was found that, when compared to people who receive a healthy amount of sleep, those with a history of insomnia were four times more likely to develop serious depression in the span of three years.
Two separate studies involving young people also found similar links between lack of sleep and serious depression. One study analyzed 300 pairs of twins, while the other focused on 1,000 teenagers. In the study regarding teenagers, sleep issues were found to exist before depression in 69 percent of cases. Similarly, teenage sleep issues preceded anxiety disorders 27 percent of the time.
In the previously mentioned Japanese heart disease study, mortality increased 1.3 times for people who experienced sleep loss. And, according to a 2009 study of 6,400 men and women who were followed for approximately eight years each, serious sleep apnea increased their risk of early death by 46 percent. Plus, of the eight percent of men in the study who had severe sleep apnea, those who between 40 and 70 years old were found to be twice as likely to die from any cause when compared to healthy men in the same age range.
Simple Sleep Hack You Can Start Tonight!
Dr. Stasha Gominak, a board certified neurologist, (read that brain doctor) discusses how vitamin D (from the sun) is needed to improve the stability of gut bacteria, which in turn help synthesize B vitamins necessary to facilitate deep sleep. After watching this video several years ago, I upped my Vitamin D intake (from basically nothing to 10,000 IU a day) I sleep very well now. Please know this is only anecdotal evidence and should not be taken from me as medical advice.
Good news; Vitamin D is readily available and is oil based. So it is a great addition to the Keto Diet.
Healthier sleep encourages a healthier life
As shown here, sleep makes a huge difference in quality of life. A quality diet, regular exercise and sleep create the foundation of health. Try adding vitamin d to your daily regime. See if you don't sleep better!