You can tell that it’s a busy time of the semester for me. I am a little behind! As I am preparing my lesson plans for the week, I am reminded of the role that sleep plays in our overall health.
Inadequate sleep has been linked to increased risk of:
- Being overweight
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Metabolic Syndrome
Our body functions related to metabolism vary throughout the day and our internal clock or rhythm of wakefulness and sleepiness can be disrupted by many lifestyle and environmental factors including:
- Poor or inadequate sleep
- Exposure to light and noise
- Physical activity, or lack thereof
When sleep is disrupted or inadequate, it can affect our hormone regulation and release which can ultimately have a negative impact on the following things:
- Concentration: Sleepiness can slow reaction time and make it difficult to concentrate, reducing focus and acuity.
- Immunity: Cytokine activity can be impaired.
- Glucose regulation: Blood sugar levels can be negatively impacted.
- Cardiovascular function: Blood pressure drops when we sleep, or stays elevated when we don’t get sleep.
- Increased cortisol levels: Known as the “stress” hormone, elevated levels can have negative health consequences included increased heart rate and blood pressure.
- Decreased leptin levels: Believed to help with the feeling of being satisfied, this hormone decreases with sleep deprivation and no longer suppresses appetite the way it should.
- Increased ghrelin: Believed to increase appetite, this hormone increases our drive to eat.
- Reduced melatonin: This hormone helps control our normal sleep / wake cycle. If we aren’t getting adequate sleep, melatonin can regulate our sleep the way it is supposed to.
- Decreased growth hormone: This hormone takes action to repair tissue and stimulate growth while we sleep. With impaired or limited sleep, it does not get to do the job it is meant to do while you are sleeping.
You can find steps to improve sleep quality and quantity in my article, “Sleep is That Golden Chain That Ties Our Health and Our Bodies Together“.