Why poor sleep can cause health issues
We’re all familiar with the feeling of not getting enough sleep at night. Find out why insomnia can cause health issues if not addressed.
There are lots of reasons why you may sometimes not get enough sleep. You’re worried – or excited – about something. You’re working overtime to meet a deadline. Perhaps you’re up late celebrating, or waking early for a flight. Or maybe you’ve just been staring at screens too long, or too late.
The occasional poor night’s sleep isn’t going to do you much harm beyond affecting your mood, energy and hunger levels the next day. But long term insomnia (or just poor sleeping habits) needs to be tackled, because sleep deprivation is bad for your health.
It’s vital that you get quality sleep every night for a long and healthy life. On average, we need at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night, although some people may need more and some less. If you often find yourself feeling lethargic or drowsy, or frequently need an afternoon time nap just get through the day, it’s a good sign that you’re not getting enough sleep.
Here are just a few reasons why a poor night’s sleep can impact your physical health.
1) A poor night’s sleep can disrupt the flow of your central nervous system
Your central nervous system (CNS) is responsible for most of your bodily functions. Your CNS is in charge of your body’s voluntary movements, memory ability, and learning. As you sleep at night, your nerve cells and the rest of your CNS get a chance to relax and fix themselves, ready for the next day. Meanwhile, your brain uses the downtime to sort through all the information it has collected throughout the day and file it away as part of your long term memories.
However, if you often deprive yourself of sleep, your central nervous system will be disrupted, and you cannot process information correctly. It will also leave your brain exhausted, making it harder to remember things or properly process information for that day, and lay down long term memories. Your body signals will also be delayed and your body will lack the coordination to appropriately complete your tasks.
Frequent sleep deprivation will also take a toll on your mental and emotional abilities. You can suffer from mood swings and anxiety, and become more impatient. It affects your ability to make decisions, too. The good news is that there are some ways to help alleviate and overcome insomnia, like this list of natural remedies. You may find a method that can help you sleep much easier at night and give your central nervous system enough time to fix itself and avoid the health conditions mentioned above.
2) Sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system
Another common health issue that can be caused by poor sleep is a weakened immune system. Every time you go to sleep, your immune system produces cytokines and antibodies, which your body uses to fight off bacteria and viruses that get into your body. Cytokines also it easier to sleep, giving your immune system more time to produce antibodies and defend your body from illnesses.
So if you’re often deprived of sleep, it means your immune system can’t produce enough protective substances. You’ll then be at higher risk of getting sick, and it will take longer for you to recover. So if you want to boost your immune system, forget expensive vitamins and herbal remedies and just make sure you get a good night’s sleep!
3) You become more vulnerable to respiratory conditions
Like other systems in your body, your respiratory system can also become weakened if you don’t get enough sleep. If you regularly wake up in the middle of the night, you may find it hard to get back to sleep again, disrupting your sleep.
This may be caused by your sleeping environment, too much caffeine intake, the frequent urge to go to the toilet at night, or a breathing disorder called sleep apnea. If this happens to you often, you are more prone to respiratory infections such as flu and common colds. If you have an existent lung disease, then poor sleep will only worsen your condition., so it’s important to ensure you create the right conditions for sleep. These include:
- Not eating or exercising too late.
- Sleeping in a cool, dark room.
- Avoiding caffeine and sugar too late in the evening.
- Keeping your bedroom free of screens.
4) Lack of sleep can contribute to obesity
Aside from overeating and a sedentary lifestyle, sleep deprivation is also one of the main factors that can contribute to obesity. When you get enough sleep, your brain produces these two hormones called ghrelin and leptin. Your leptin controls your feeling of fullness and hunger, while ghrelin is your body’s appetite stimulant.
If you’re frequently deprived of sleep, your leptin hormones will be lessened, but your ghrelin will escalate. This, in turn, can lead to a larger appetite that is harder to sate.
Inadequate sleep will also affect your energy. As mentioned earlier, your body will lack coordination, which means it will be much more difficult for you to perform physical exercise. As a result, your lack of physical activity and uncontrollable appetite will lead to obesity.
5) It can contribute to cardiovascular disease
A lack of sleep may also affect your heart. When you sleep, your heart and blood vessels’ work decreases, and as a result your heart rate goes down at night. Your blood pressure also decreases and becomes stable. However, if you don’t get enough sleep, your blood pressure and sugar level can increase, making you more at risk of a heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.
Keep in mind that a lack of sleep does not cause heart disease, but it can increase your risk of having heart disease in the future because your blood vessels and your heart will not have time to fix themselves.
A good night’s sleep is important for your health!
The best way to prevent all these health issues is to get adequate sleep every night. And this all starts with a calming and sleep-inducing bedtime routine. This includes going to sleep at around the same time every night, and avoiding habits (like eating, drinking and exercising late) that keep your body awake. It also includes winding down from electronics, so it’s a good idea to take a break from screens before you go to bed.
Many amazing things happen to your body when you sleep; it’s your body’s time to fix itself and prepare for the next day ahead. Your body is doing its best to perform well for you, so help it along by doing your best to allow it a good night’s sleep every nigh!