Do you find our website to be helpful?
Yes   No

How Lack of Sleep Affects Your Health

It’s estimated that 50 million to 70 million American adults have some type of sleep disorder, meaning that virtually everywhere you go, there are a bunch of sleep-deprived individuals trying to get through the day. If you’re one of these drowsy people consuming copious amounts of caffeine just so you can keep your eyes open during a meeting, or while you’re driving, you could be in serious trouble.

Dr. Cecil Yeung, an expert ear, nose, and throat, and sleep disorder physician, at Houston Sinus Surgery in Houston, explains how lack of sleep can affect your overall health — probably in ways you never even realized. Take a moment to learn how chronic sleep issues may be negatively impacting your well-being.

Sleep deprivation drains mental capacity, risks physical health

Sleep deprivation is the result of regularly not getting enough sleep, which keeps your body from recovering physically and mentally from your day. Without adequate slumber, your brain and body have a hard time functioning normally. During a restful sleep, your brain creates new neurological connections that help with memory, and your body heals itself and restores its chemical balance.

When you don’t allow time for these systems to restore, virtually all your physiological systems stop functioning optimally, and it can seriously affect the quality of your life. Whether you’re not allowing yourself enough time to get adequate shut-eye, or you have a physical or mental condition that prevents you from sleeping restfully, you experience symptoms such as:

Chronic sleep deprivation can also put you at a higher risk of developing health conditions like diabetes and heart disease. And, it can make you more prone to accidents as a result of poor coordination and balance, or contribute to car accidents, since your mind isn’t as alert when you’re behind the wheel, driving tired.

Research also indicates that if you sleep less than 6-8 hours each night, it can literally take years off your life by increasing your risk of early death by 12%.

Lack of sleep compromises your immune system

Chronic sleep deprivation prevents your immune system from producing enough infection-fighting cytokines. These substances combat bacteria and viruses, so when you don’t get enough sleep, you may be sick more often or it may take you longer to recover from an illness. Additionally, it’s easier to develop chronic illnesses like diabetes or heart disease when your immune system can’t keep up with your physical needs.

Lack of sleep negatively affects your digestive system

Wondering why you can’t lose weight or you tend to eat too much at meals? Lack of sleep affects the hormones that control hunger and feelings of fullness. These hormones, leptin and ghrelin, tell your brain when you’ve had enough to eat. But, when you don’t get enough sleep, your brain produces less of these hormones, so you eat more or snack late at night.

On top of producing less leptin and ghrelin, your body produces more insulin than you need after you eat. Higher insulin levels promote the storage of fat and increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. To make matters worse, chronically sleep-deprived adults are usually too tired to exercise, exacerbating your inability to lose weight.

Interrupted sleep often leads to lower hormone production

Your body’s hormone production depends on uninterrupted sleep. When you wake up repeatedly through the night, as is often the case for those who suffer from sleep disorders like sleep apnea, your body may not be able to produce a sufficient amount of hormones, including testosterone. As a man who doesn’t get enough sleep, you may notice a resulting decrease in your sex drive.

You really do need your beauty sleep

If you feel like you’re looking older than you should and you suffer from a chronic sleep disorder, you may be prematurely developing wrinkles and sagging skin. Your body produces more cortisol (a stress hormone) when you’re sleep deprived, which breaks down collagen — an element that’s essential for keeping your skin firm and smooth. See? There’s truth to the notion that you need your beauty sleep.

Dr. Yeung is an expert at diagnosing and treating sleep disorders, so if you’re struggling to stay awake (even as you read this!) give our friendly office staff a call or schedule an appointment using the online system.

You Might Also Enjoy...

The Most Common Causes Behind Snoring

Most people snore from time to time, but ongoing issues with snoring may be a sign of something bigger. Furthermore, snoring may prevent you and those around you from getting a good night’s rest. Read on to learn the most common causes of snoring.

5 Reasons Why You May Be Suffering From Sinusitis

Millions of Americans suffer from sinusitis. And whether it’s acute or chronic, the pain and discomfort from sinusitis can hijack your life. Read on to learn what can cause sinusitis and how it can be treated.

Understanding Thyroid Nodules

When you hear the word “nodule,” your thinking may automatically jump to cancer. When it comes to thyroid nodules, the good news is that the nodules are mostly benign — mostly. Here’s what you should know.

Breathe Your Way to Better Athletic Performance

Breathing issues can impact your daily life and your performance as an athlete. Often, there’s a simple solution that can treat the underlying causes of common breathing issues. Discover how you can breathe your way to a better athletic performance.

How Can I Correct My Deviated Septum?

Do you have difficulty breathing most days? Do you snore at night? These could be signs of a deviated septum, especially if you ever suffered trauma to your nose. Learn when to seek treatment and your options for correcting a deviated septum.