Sleep is essential to human health. Though complex in its nature, understanding how and why the brain and body regulate it remains an enigmatic mystery.

Sleep helps your muscles heal themselves, your brain clears away waste products, and hormones regulate everything from hunger to stress levels. But sleeping poorly can have long-term negative impacts on overall health.

1. Increased Risk of Heart Disease

People often associate diet and exercise as being key factors to heart health, but sleep is just as crucial. A new study revealed that those who sleep at odd times or don’t get an adequate number of hours each night were at higher risk of heart disease. This investigation was part of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), which tracked 6,000 men and women. Researchers focused on participants’ bedtimes and average nightly sleeping hours to gather this information.

Researchers discovered that those sleeping less than six hours per night were at greater risk for heart disease, while those sleeping 8 or more hours had lower rates. Women caregivers or those caring for relatives in hospital may find themselves less rested as a result. Furthermore, this research took into account other potential influences including age, gender, body mass index, prevalence of heart disease, smoking status and any serious sleep apnea issues which might also influence results.

One limitation of the study was its reliance on self-reporting for both duration and quality of sleep, meaning its findings cannot establish cause and effect. Still, good sleep has many health advantages associated with it such as managing stress better, decreasing risk for depression and improving memory/concentration abilities.

Sleep is essential to overall health and can be improved with some effort from all of us. Setting an alarm at the same time each night or ensuring you get enough rest each night are two easy ways that anyone can make changes that will have a beneficial effect on their wellbeing.

2. Increased Risk of Diabetes

Sleep may seem like the perfect opportunity to rest, rejuvenate and refresh yourself for another day, but research demonstrates otherwise. Sleep actually engages every part of your body as it repairs damage from daily activity while simultaneously helping maintain long-term mental and physical wellbeing.

READ  Mental Health Awareness - It's Okay Not to Be Okay

Researchers devote much of their waking hours to researching how sleep works. Researchers are discovering that there are multiple functions performed during this stage, including restoring equilibrium between energy expenditure and intake as well as regulating glucose metabolism.

Studies have demonstrated that people sleeping for longer than average duration tend to have higher blood sugar levels and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes due to impaired glucose tolerance and insulin secretion. Studies also indicate that sleeping disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), are associated with poorer glucose management.

Sleep and glucose regulation is an intricate relationship, yet still incompletely understood. Multiple mechanisms may contribute to its relationship with poor control; such as increased waist size and sedentary lifestyle linked to prolonged sleeping resulting in obesity or the development of diabetes.

Sleep is essential to overall wellbeing. Adults typically need seven to nine hours of quality rest each night for optimal performance; to do this effectively it’s recommended that bedtime and wakeup times stay the same on weekdays and weekends alike for maximum effectiveness of internal clock. Naps should not last more than 20 minutes and shouldn’t occur early afternoon.

3. Increased Risk of Cancer

Scientists have long linked cancer, an illness in which cells grow uncontrollably, with inadequate sleep duration. Studies that demonstrate this link typically use associations; meaning people with specific cancers tend to have shorter sleeping durations than people who don’t share that diagnosis – but this doesn’t prove either that short sleep duration was the cause or is the solution.

Sleep is an intricate process that scientists are still learning how to understand. What we do know, though, is its value in strengthening your immune system: during this restful state your white blood cells become active and can attack any germs or bacteria attacking your body.

READ  Exploring the Link Between Stress and Health

Studies have also demonstrated that when people with higher-than-average sleep quality have reduced cancer risks significantly more effectively. Although the reason is still not entirely understood, experts speculate it may be related to your immune system working harder to attack cancerous cells and eliminate them more efficiently. Furthermore, breast and colorectal cancer cases tend to be much more prevalent in areas with poor sleeping environments.

4. Increased Risk of Memory Loss

Sleep deprivation can hinder attention and concentration, leading to memory impairment. Yet getting adequate restful hours each night can support cognitive function in your brain and lower the risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease as you age. Scientists don’t fully understand why, but some speculate that during deep sleep the hippocampus plays back the day’s events for storage in long-term storage by your neocortex; and during deep sleep your body also cleanses away waste proteins that accumulate during daily activity and link with Alzheimer’s disease.

Sleep is the time when your heart rate and breathing decrease, blood flow to your brain decreases and short bursts of activity known as Sleep Spindles occur, wherein brain waves speed up momentarily for half seconds or so to help disconnect external sensory input and prepare your mind for restorative rest.

Your body slows down when you sleep, with kidneys producing less urine and your digestive system relaxing more. In turn, sleep also gives your immune system time to heal itself and fight infections more effectively, which may explain why healthy and active individuals tend to have lower rates of chronic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, obesity depression and other ailments.

Sleep is so vital to overall health that it was included on the American Heart Association’s list of seven risk factors you can alter – diet, exercise, smoking status, cholesterol and blood glucose levels, weight and more – by their “Life’s Simple 7.” Getting sufficient quality rest each night will extend and enrich your life experience.

READ  Understanding the Link Between Health and Climate Change

5. Increased Risk of Depression

Sleep deprivation has the power to adversely affect both your mood and risk for depression. Research shows that lack of restful slumber may contribute to or worsen mental health conditions like anxiety and depression; additionally it may exacerbate symptoms associated with certain psychiatric illnesses like PTSD and ADHD.

Sleep deprivation can leave people irritable, moody and less likely to be happy – which has serious repercussions for both their physical and mental wellbeing. Poor quality rest can reduce appetite, leading to weight gain due to insufficient nutrition intake; and decrease immunity, leaving them susceptible to illness and infection. Even one night of poor rest can leave one feeling like they are living in a fog and unable to think clearly or concentrate properly.

Sleep researchers are gradually coming to understand why this occurs. They understand there are two complimentary systems within the brain which regulate sleep: one driving you towards bedtime and another signalling when it’s time to wake up. When these don’t communicate efficiently with each other, jet lag and difficulty getting enough hours of restful rest each night are likely results.

As researchers explore more ways that sleep benefits mental health, it has become clear that good sleeping habits are an integral component of overall wellness and not simply an additional feature to a diet, exercise program, stress management techniques or lifestyle practices. Therefore, increasing sleep might just as important as cutting back on fatty foods or exercising regularly – listen to Michigan Medicine News Break podcast for more info!