Sleeping is the time for renewal and detoxification. The human circadian clock, which depends primarily on light and dark, regulate all our hormones, including the growth hormones and immune cells that rid the body of toxins and the by-products of your metabolism. One way you can tell that you’re getting good, quality sleep is when you dream. Dreams come up during sleep every three to five hours when we experience rapid ocular movement (REM). Both lack of sleep and the disruption of the circadian cycle can harm our health in numerous ways, such as the ones listed below.
Risk of Gaining Weight or Being Overweight
Lack of sleep increases the hunger hormone, Ghrelin, and reduces the satiety hormone, leptin. One study showed that, after only sleeping four hours, women and men added an average of 329 and 263 calories, respectively, to their next day meals.
More Accident Prone
Sleep deficiency causes car crushes and serious injury from work-related accidents.
Headaches, Migraines and Heart Disease in the Long Run
Research shows that the physiological effects of lack of sleep are the same as those of stress. Cortisol, or the stress hormone, increases, which leads to high blood pressure and more frequent headaches. In the long run, lack of sleep may lead to heart disease.
Diabetes and the Metabolic Syndrome
One of our most important hormones is insulin, which regulates your blood sugar. Researchers at Vanderbilt University found that, when the body circadian clock is disrupted, the production of insulin is affected, leading to a risk of diabetes and fat accumulation around the waist.
Irritability, Stress and Mood Disorders
Sleep deficiency leads to serious mood disorders that can compromise work, social and family relationships. In a study described by the Harvard University online health page, people who slept 4.5 hours a night for one week became “angry, sad and mentally exhausted.”
When you are rested, your immune system improves, and you can fight off viruses and infections more efficiently. This applies even if you get vaccinated, as people who slept less hours were found to produce fewer antibodies after a vaccine than those who slept sufficiently.
Loss of Mental Abilities Such as Decision-Making and Memory
When mice were submitted to changes in their circadian cycle, they became less agile mentally, their memory decreased and their behavior changed as well. Scientists found that after 10 weeks, the mouses’ brains shrunk and they lost neurons and connections in the parts of the cortex responsible with connecting emotions with decision-making.
Sleep Aggravates Other Serious Illnesses
Lack of sleep has all the making to hasten Alzheimer’s onset, because it is linked to deficient cleaning of the beta-amyloid, a protein fragment that has been linked to Alzheimer’s, as well as loss of short term memory and the observation that it increases the amount of tau (T) proteins in the brain which help to stabilize the nervous system. If they end up sticking together, pathologies can lead to development of Alzheimer’s.
If you want to be at your best to accomplish all the goals you have throughout your day, you need to ensure that you get plenty of sleep. It will not just help out with your day-to-day activities, but in the long run, too. Listen to your body and make it a goal to get around 8 hours of sleep per night—your mind and body will certainly thank you for it!