How Sleep Disorders Affect Your Health?

Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

Sleep or lack of it, has a direct impact on your health. Let’s take a look at some specific issues, and how sleep is beneficial to overall mental and physical health.

Weight Issues

There is tons of evidence that points to a direct link between sleep and body weight. According to researchers, the amount and definitely the quality of sleep a person received each night has a direct effect on the hormones that affect appetite. The hormones that we are talking about are ghrelin and leptin, also known as the “checks and balances” of our hunger control*. If you are like me, you have surely had “hungry days” where you can eat everything in sight and never feel satisfied. If you recall, I can almost guarantee* that the previous night you had a poor night’s sleep.

Sleep Disorders Affect Your Health

Ghrelin stimulates our appetite and Leptin notifies our brain, when we have reached a full stomach. Consider this, when you are deprived of a good night sleep, the Leptin levels drop, which means the message never gets to your brain that you are full and satisfied. Also, due to lack of sleep the hormone Ghrelin rises which stimulates your appetite causing you to eat more (even though you may not be hungry). This is a deadly combination that will undoubtedly lead to overeating, unwanted weight gain and a whole host of other medical problems.

Body Systems

Sleep affects all of the body systems (reproductive, endocrine, cardiovascular, and muscular – just to name a few) and the sense of sight.

Sleep is a necessity to life and ones love life; lack of proper sleep affects our mood, our intimate relationships and a balanced hormonal system. Sleep deprivation can also affect a women’s menstrual system and this can have a direct impact on trying to conceive a baby.

Without proper sleep, our immune system is affected in such a negative way that it resembles being heavily stressed out during hours that we are awake.

All body systems need time to recover from the day’s activities, repair any damage and eliminate* dead and useless cells from the body. This recovery only happens during a period of rest.

Our bodies, inside and out, will age much more quickly, if the time is not taken to sleep. It may not be evident to see the results of sleep, but it is very clear that when a person does not get the right amount of sleep, the consequences are serious to not only our bodily organs, but also our mind and spirit.

Immune Function

It is a fact that sleep deprivation causes a huge list of both mental and physical health issues, and that also includes affecting the immune system in a negative way. The immune system is specifically designed to protect* us from the common cold, flu systems and other illness. When the immune system is compromised, we use more “sick days”, and spend more days on the couch attempting to recuperate.

Our immune system is a complex system, and T-cells drop if we don’t get enough quality sleep are what we need to stay reasonably healthy. Basically, if you spend a lot of time “burning* the midnight oil” and not getting a good 7 to 8 of sleep a night, your body is unable to fight off any bacterial based infections, and the severity of the illness will be worse and the duration of sickness will be longer.

Energy

Scientific studies are still in a process, and they have not made conclusive decisions about sleep and higher energy levels, but you can see for yourself that if you don’t get good sleep on a regular basis that you are sluggish during the day and unmotivated.

Sleep studies have shown that quality sleep improves* memory skills, elevates* mood swings and reduces* stress. On the other hand, being deprived of sleep will raise a person’s risk for heart disease.

Heart Disease

Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder that deprives our bodies of much needed oxygen, and when the blood is in short supply of oxygen, our heart needs to work extra hard and it doesn’t function at optimal levels.

The sleep disorder, Apnea, must be treated, because, if left untreated it opens the doors to possible heart failure and other heart related diseases.

It is true that this research regarding sleep disorders and medical issues of the heart is in its early stages, but the statistics so far are revealing that there is a major connection between sleep disorders and heart diseases.

Risk of Diabetes

If you are not sleeping well, it might be a good idea to have your blood glucose (sugar) levels checked. There is scientific evidence that indicates that major sleep loss can lead a person to diabetes.

Dr. Mark Mahowald, the director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorder Center, says that the body reacts to loss of sleep in the same manner as insulin resistant (a symptom of prediabetes). Insulin is what converts sugar to useful energy.

High blood sugar is the result of insulin not being able to properly do its job. And excessive (untreated) high blood glucose levels can lead to problems with kidneys, heart, nerve endings and vision.

Depression

We all feel sad at appropriate times, but clinical depression is an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness, sadness and of overall disinterest in things that we once found enjoyable. Depression is a mental disorder that affects about 20 million Americans.

Depression and sleep disorders, although a complex correlation, are directly linked. Having trouble sleeping may not necessarily be a leader towards depression, but if you have been clinically diagnosed with depression; the inability to sleep is a definite symptom. It can also swing the other way and sleeping too much is also a sign of depression.

Mental Health

It is not a fact that bad sleep habits lead to mental health disorders, but according to psychiatrists, it is common (that over 75%) of their patients (especially those suffering with attention deficit issues, depression and anxiety related problems to have some sort of sleep disturbance. When a sleep disorder is addressed and treated it seems that all or some negative symptoms of mental health disorders are alleviated.

From the clinical studies conducted so far, it is evident that chronic sleep deprivation and disruptions in the normal sleep patterns can and will produce* mental vulnerability that could lead to depression, and other negative mental health disorders.

It is common practice that a doctor will ask specific questions regarding sleep and when conduction a full mental health exam can be given. This is done because it is strongly believed that sleep and our mental health are directly linked.

While more than 2/3rd of Americans have admitting to having sleep difficulties, most individuals do not make the connection with poor sleeping habits and mental health issues.

There is still much research to be done in this area, but anxiety, depression and substance abuse have long been linked with sleep disruptions.

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Author

Expert Author : Kelly Everson (Consumer Health Digest)

Kelly Everson is an independent editor, an award-winning writer and an editorial consultant in the health and fitness industries. Currently, she is a contributing editor at Consumer Health Digest.