A good nights sleep is one of my favorite things in this world, but sadly, I don’t let myself get them as often as I should. I stay up too late and get up too early most days. What I didn’t realize before today is just how much my sleep patterns could be hurting me.
According to one survey, I’m not alone. 48% of Americans report that they don’t get enough sleep, and that number is even higher among people 35 to 54 years old.
There are actual diseases that can be caused or exacerbated by lack of sleep. These are a handful of them.
1. Obesity and diabetes.
How on earth would not sleeping cause obesity? Well, researchers at the University of Chicago made the connection. Fatty acids impact the speed of your metabolism and the ability to regulate blood sugars. Those who didn’t get enough sleep had a fatty acid buildup, which resulted in a slower metabolism. People who got enough sleep didn’t have these higher fatty acid levels.
2. Alzheimer’s disease.
In a 2013 study conducted by researchers at John Hopkins University, lack of sleep can cause Alzheimer’s and continued sleeplessness will speed up the disease’s progression. The researchers found that sleep was necessary for the brain to get rid of what they called “cerebral waste,” or the waste that can accumulate and cause dementia.
3. Cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular has long been linked to poor sleeping patterns. In one study, 657 Russian men ages 25 to 64 were followed for 14 years. About two thirds of the men who experienced heart attack had some type of sleep disorder as well.
In a startling and unfortunate finding, researchers in 2014 found a link between suicidal thoughts in adults and poor sleep, regardless of whether or not they’d ever suffer depression. The ten year study was conducted by researchers at the Stanford University of Medicine. 420 participants in middle to late adulthood were examined. 20 of the participants with difficulties sleeping unfortunately took their lives during the course of the study. White males 85 years or older were the must susceptible.
5. Prostate cancer.
A 2013 study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, researchers noted an increase in the rate and severity of prostate cancer among patients with sleep issues. The study followed 2,425 Icelandic men aged 67 to 96 for three years. The danger of developing prostate cancer increased by 60% in men who did not sleep enough. That number doubled when subjects had trouble staying asleep. Researchers think it’s a result of melatonin suppression. Melatonin not only helps us sleep, but suppresses tumor growth.
6. Ulcerative colitis.
Ulcerative colitis is a fairly common inflammatory bowel disease marked by ulcers in the lining of your digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis can be caused by both too little and too much sleep according to a study conducted by the NHS. Researchers found that less than six and more than nine hours of sleep resulted in higher rates of ulcerative colitis, regardless of other factors.