How Lack of Sleep Affects Your Health

Sleep is more than simply resting and relaxing – it is essential for your long-term wellbeing, and is just as crucial as eating healthily. Many people do not realise that lack of sleep can cause weight gain, insulin resistance, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, and diabetes.

Studies have revealed people who are sleep deprived have a more than 10% increase in the risk of all-cause death, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer[1]. Researchers have also found a link between poor sleep, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes even after adjusting for factors such as age, blood pressure, smoking, and waist circumference[2]. And lately, insufficient sleep has even been considered a risk factor for Alzheimer’s dementia[3].

Less sleep, more stress

When we get little to no sleep, our bodies secrete more cortisol – a stress hormone – which increases alertness and mobilises energy stores. It is essential in times of stress but long-term or excessive cortisol exposure increases insulin resistance, decreases glucose tolerance, and promotes weight gain – particularly weight gain around the stomach (visceral fat), which is linked to an increased risk of chronic disease[4].

It is especially bad for diabetic patients because on top of insulin resistance and increased cortisol levels, type 1 diabetes patients may notice an increase in blood glucose levels in the morning if they do not get enough sleep. To control this, they will then have to take extra insulin injections. Type 2 diabetes patients who wish to reverse type 2 diabetes naturally also need to be additionally aware of the way sleep affects their health and recovery.

Lower recovery period

A good night’s sleep helps the body to recover, promotes tissue regeneration, and allows the central nervous system to preserve neuronal integrity[5]. Naturally, if your sleep is disrupted, it will affect your immune function and pain as it increases markers of inflammation and release of prostaglandins – which activate pain receptors in the body – contributing to chronic pain syndromes[6].

Normally, during restorative sleep, your blood pressure and heart rate reduce to their lowest point of the day. Unfortunately, if you do not get enough sleep, your blood vessels will not release as much nitric oxide as required, which means your blood pressure and heart rate will remain elevated. To make matters worse, poor sleep is linked to an increase in the release of inflammatory cytokines as well as an increased risk of blood clots. When combined, these factors can worsen outcomes of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and decreased immunity[7].

You wake up craving more food

People who do not get enough sleep are known to have increased levels of ghrelin – a hormone that stimulates hunger and appetite – the next day[8][9]. Studies have also found that poor sleep increases your cravings for food with high calories, especially sugar and carbohydrates. This then could lead you to increase snacking throughout the day [10][11]. As a result, you will gain weight quickly and risk being diagnosed with obesity, diabetes, and other cardiovascular diseases.

How to get a good night’s sleep

Now that you realise getting a good night’s sleep is essential for your long-term health and to help prevent chronic disease, here are a few ways you can ensure a good night’s rest:

1. Avoid using electronic devices and being exposed to too much blue light after dark. Blue light  – the light that is emitted from electronic devices – is known to prevent the release of melatonin, which is an important sleep hormone. You can consider installing apps that block blue light on your devices and trying to reduce your usage over time.

2. Always try to maintain a cool temperature in your bedroom before going to bed.

3. Stick to a regular sleep-wake routine and try not to vary your sleep time much.

4. Do activities that calm you down before bed such as reading, meditation, or using aromatic oils. Try and keep off your phone and computer as much as possible right before going to sleep.

5. Still struggling to sleep? Consider grouping the carbohydrates you do consume to before bedtime as they are known to increase your brain’s ability to take up tryptophan –  an amino acid needed for the production of melatonin[12].

Reach out to the experts

All in all, good quality sleep can affect every part of your health so do not forget to prioritise it! At Diversa Health, we help our patients on their journey to better health in a personalised and holistic way, from ensuring better sleep and eating patterns to reversing diabetes type 2 naturally. Reach out to us to find out more about how you can improve your lifestyle habits as well as receive the best diabetes support services in Australia.

References

1. Mullington, J., Simpson, N., Meier-Ewert, H., & Haack, M. (2010). Sleep loss and inflammation. Best Practice and Research in Clinical Endocrinology Metabolism, 5(24), 774-784. doi:10.1016/j.beem.2010.08.014

2. Padilha, H., Cirspim, C., Zimberg, D., Waterhouse, J., De-Souza, A., Tufik, S., & de-Mello, M. (2011). A link between sleep loss, glucose metabolism and adipokines. Brazillian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, 44(10), 992-999. doi:10.1590/S0100-879X2011007500113

3. Shokri-Kojori, E., Wang, G.-J., Wiers, C. D., & Guo, M. (2018). B-Amyloid accumulation in the human brain after one night of sleep deprivation. PNAS, 115(17), 4483-4488. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1721694115

4. Sonka, K., & Horvat, E. (2008). The effects of sleep and sleep deprivation on metabolic, endocrine and immune parameters. Prague Medical Report, 109(4), 275-285.

5. Marks, R., & Landaira, M. (2015). Sleep, disturbances of sleep, stress and obesity: a narrative review. Journal of Obesity and Eating Disorders, 1(2). doi:10.21767/2471-8203.100006

6. Mullington, J., Simpson, N., Meier-Ewert, H., & Haack, M. (2010). Sleep loss and inflammation. Best Practice and Research in Clinical Endocrinology Metabolism, 5(24), 774-784. doi:10.1016/j.beem.2010.08.014

7. Mullington, J., Simpson, N., Meier-Ewert, H., & Haack, M. (2010). Sleep loss and inflammation. Best Practice and Research in Clinical Endocrinology Metabolism, 5(24), 774-784. doi:10.1016/j.beem.2010.08.014

8. Hirotsu, C., Tufik, S., & Andersen, M. (2015). Interactions between sleep, stress, and metabolism: from physiological to pathological conditions. Sleep Science, 8, 143-152. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.slsci.2015.09.002

9. Spiegal, K., Leproult, R., Knutson, K., & Cauter, E. (2005). Sleep loss: a novel risk factor for insulin resistance and type II diabetes. Jounral of Applied Physiology, 275, 946-950. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00660.2005

10. Nedeltcheva, A., & Kilkus, J. (2009). Sleep curtailment is accompanied by increased intake of calories from snacks. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89, 126-133. doi:0.3945/ajcn.2008.26574

11. Spiegal, K., Leproult, R., Knutson, K., & Cauter, E. (2005). Sleep loss: a novel risk factor for insulin resistance and type II diabetes. Jounral of Applied Physiology, 275, 946-950. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00660.2005

12. Marks, R., & Landaira, M. (2015). Sleep, disturbances of sleep, stress and obesity: a narrative review. Journal of Obesity and Eating Disorders, 1(2). doi:10.21767/2471-8203.100006

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ABOUT DIABETES REVERSAL

Although there is no universally agreed upon definition for the reversal of type 2 diabetes, Diversa uses HbA1c to assist in defining diabetes and pre-diabetes reversal.

Type 2 diabetes reversal is when a patient who previously had an HbA1c in the diabetic range (>6.4%) returning an HbA1c in the non-diabetic range (<6.4%) (along with the absence of medications used to manage diabetes). Pre-diabetes reversal is when a patient who previously had an HbA1c in the pre-diabetic range (5.7-6.4%) returning an HbA1c to the non pre-diabetic range (less than 5.7%).

It is important to recognise that although not everybody may be able to completely reverse type 2 diabetes, partial reversal, the reduction of medication dosages, along with the simultaneous lowering of HbA1c, will unquestionably achieve a better quality of life and improve health outcomes for those living with type 2 diabetes.

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