Sleep is essential to our well-being; it provides our bodies and minds with much-needed restorative power, enabling us to function at our best. Sleep also serves to regulate emotions, regulate our immune systems and remove cellular toxins from the body.
Prioritize healthy sleeping habits just like diet and exercise to ensure optimal health outcomes. The American Thoracic Society provides health promotion recommendations on good sleep health to educate both the general public and healthcare providers of its importance.
Increased Risk of Diseases and Disorders
Studies have demonstrated the correlation between inadequate sleep and an increase in disease and disorder risk. Sleep can help maintain a healthy body weight, decrease insulin resistance, prevent type 2 diabetes, and enhance cognitive thinking and memory functions.
Studies demonstrate that those sleeping less than six hours per night have an increased risk of premature mortality, including heart disease, malignant neoplasms, obesity, mental health problems, and accidents such as vehicular or workplace incidents.
Sleep allows your immune system to produce antibodies and cells to fight infection, studies show. Without enough rest, however, these infection-fighting cells and antibodies decline. Furthermore, poor rest can contribute to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and depression due to rising cortisol levels – chronically high cortisol levels can damage heart vessels.
Increased Risk of Dementia
Researchers found that people getting six hours or less of sleep per night are 30% more likely to develop dementia later in life while receiving adequate amounts of restful slumber during middle age significantly reduces this risk.
Poor sleep may result in changes to parts of the brain associated with Alzheimer’s, even years before symptoms appear.
One study demonstrated that even one night of poor sleep can result in higher concentrations of beta-amyloid, an Alzheimer’s protein associated with damaged nerve cells, and lead to memory problems. This buildup may damage nerves as well as lead to cognitive issues.
Researchers analyzed data from 7,959 adults who self-reported their sleep habits, using accelerometers to measure sleep quality. After 25 years, they followed each participant for dementia risk assessments. Short sleep duration in midlife was associated with a higher risk for dementia regardless of sociodemographic, behavioral, cardiometabolic, or mental health factors – leading the authors of the study to suggest that public health messages encouraging good sleep hygiene may play a key role in dementia prevention.
Researchers have discovered that when people do not get enough sleep, their risk for mood disorders increases significantly. Sleep allows the brain to connect events, memories, and feelings – the deepest sleep (REM sleep) being especially useful in this regard and helping individuals evaluate their emotions more accurately.
Adequate sleep has many other advantages as well, including helping the immune system fight off germs and viruses and helping repair muscle tissue in your body.
Consistency is key when it comes to getting enough restful slumber; try setting an alarm for each nighttime and rising at a set time each morning, even if that means sleeping for less time than you intended. If you find yourself struggling to sleep, speak with your physician as this could indicate an underlying sleep disorder requiring treatment; sleep disorders increase risk factors for many diseases so early detection and intervention are key in treating any potential sleep-related issues.
Increased Risk of Injury
Regularly failing to get enough rest puts people at greater risk of serious health problems. Sleep deprivation impairs judgment and mood, increasing your likelihood of engaging in bad behaviors that lead to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease – or cause car crashes and injuries.
Sleep is of particular importance for individuals working in high-risk industries like aviation, trucking, and oil and gas. Fatigue has been implicated in numerous workplace accidents as well as major disasters.
Sleep may also help protect against exercise-related injury. In one study, adolescents who got enough rest incurred fewer sports injuries. Researchers suggest this might be down to their body’s natural capacity for healing muscle damage during REM sleep, or perhaps an insufficient sleep regimen makes people more prone to injury through overtraining and early sports specialization.