Sleep shortage affects our health and wellbeing more than we’d like to believe. With our busy and time-deprived lives, sleep seems to be the first sacrifice made. Understandably, we do live in a productivity-focused world and lead caffeinated-reliant lifestyles. But a full eight hours of sleep that’s an occasional luxury should be a habit. Our bodies and minds can’t fully function without sleep. Without adequate sleep, our bodies and minds are starved for rest, energy restoration and other essential processes that keep us healthy and focused, such as the creation of new pathways for learning and memory and the fighting of infections, according to CampusMindsWorks.org. Whether a lack of sleep is voluntary or caused by sleep apnea, your health is dependent upon reserving time for a proper night’s rest or visiting an excellent otolaryngologist such as Stephen Dent.

Without adequate sleep, we’re at risk for the following health problems:

Weight Gain

Tired Man Hiding His Head with PillowA body that lacks sleep resorts to “emergency mode.” To function with sleep loss, your body tricks you into believing you’re hungry. You end up craving sugary and fatty foods high in calories to stay awake and energized. Naturally, the more time you spend awake, the more likely you are to eat and drink. Then your body stores those extra calories around your belly, and your body starts to gain weight.

Heart Health

Inefficient sleep increases risks of heart disease and can harden arteries. According to a 2011 European Heart Journal study reported by ABC News, “people who slept fewer than six hours a night were 48 percent more likely to develop or die from heart disease.”

Increased Risk for Diabetes

People who experience a shortage of sleep, fewer than six hours a night, have an increased risk for developing incident-impaired fasting glycaemia (IFG). IFG is a health condition with higher-than-normal blood glucose levels, according to NaturalNews.com. The chances of people who have the pre-diabetic condition IFG being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are higher than people without IFG and people with healthier sleep habits.

Brain & Bodily Functions

For healthy brain activity, such the creation of new pathways for learning, insight and memory, the body needs sleep. Proper rest also ensures that your body can release hormones, fight infections and give your heart and vascular system a break.

Cancer

Sleep deficiency is linked to an increased likelihood of developing breast and colon cancer. Ongoing shortages of sleep are associated with increased levels of inflammation and impeded immune responses, according to the ABC News article “5 Health Hazards Linked to Lack of Sleep.”

Depression

A chronic lack of sleep creates mood disorders, anxiety and irritability. A restless mental state can also reduce the capacity to focus and concentrate, which can lead to depression. The connection between sleep deficiency and enhanced activity in the emotional areas of the brain can cause sleep-deprived individuals to experience lower satisfaction in life.

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