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How Lack of Sleep Affects Your Health

Lack of sleep has both negative and physical effects on you. It affects your day-to-day functioning. Getting enough quality sleep is essential. If you don’t, you’ll feel groggy and exhausted, very emotional and your health becomes weakened. You increase your risk of heart disease and other health problems such as:

    1. Heart attack and stroke. People with sleep apnea have a higher risk of having a heart attack. Sleep apnea disrupts how your body gets oxygen, making it hard for your brain to control blood flow in your arteries and the brain.
    2. Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is common to people who have sleep apnea. If you are obese, your risk for both sleep apnea and diabetes are higher.
    3. High blood pressure. Sleep apnea can make high blood pressure worse. When you can’t breathe well in your sleep, your levels of oxygen in your blood drops, increasing your blood pressure. High blood pressure increases your risk of having a stroke.
    4. Weight gain. Extra pounds raise your chances of getting sleep apnea. Having sleep apnea makes it harder to slim down.
    5. Lack of focus. Your lack of sleep can cause you to feel groggy, raising your risk of falling asleep at your desk or behind the wheel of your car.
    6. Cells appear 10 years older. Lack of sleep can lead to lackluster skin, fine lines, and dark circles under the eyes. Chronic lack of sleep allows the body to release the excess stress hormone cortisol which breaks down skin collagen that keeps skin smooth and elastic.
    7. Depression and anxiety. People who don’t get enough sleep are ten times more likely to develop depression and anxiety disorders.
    8. Decreased immune function and greater risk for illness. According to the Mayo Clinic, when you don’t get enough sleep your immune system decreases, increasing your risks of catching the flu and common colds.
    9. Increased risk of heart attack, angina, and stroke. Long-standing sleeplessness is associated with increased heart rate, increase in blood pressure and higher levels of certain chemicals linked with inflammation that can put extra strain on your heart.
    10. Increased risk of accidents and death. Lack of sleep affects your concentration, making it harder to stay focused when driving.
    11. Increased risk for breast cancer. A connection between shorter sleep patterns and an increased risk or recurrence of breast cancer tumors has been found.
    12. High blood pressure. Hypertension can be linked to shorter sleep cycles.
    13. Obesity. People who tend to sleep less are more likely to overeat and make poor food choices.
    14. Lack of sex drive. Men and women who don’t get enough sleep or quality sleep often have lower libidos and are less interested in sex.
    15. Increases stress. Lack of sleep contributes to more stress, which in turn leads to less sleep.
    16. Disturbs good mood which affects your relationships. Those who get a poor night’s sleep often feel irritable and moody, which they often project onto others.

It’s amazing what happens when such a simple thing as closing our eyes and sleeping doesn’t occur. Our physical, mental and emotional health all suffer, as well as our relationships and our work. Something as simple as sleep can offer great gains in your health and outlook on life. Here’s to catching some great ZZZs!

Dr. Meaghan Clemens

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