Why Is Sleep Important?

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It used to be that getting enough sleep was an afterthought. For those of us trying to stay healthy, our focus was diet and exercise. If we didn’t get enough sleep, then we might be tired the next day but, oh well, we’d catch up later. Those days are over. New research points to a plethora of health problems associated with poor sleep. Let’s take a look at a few.

Inadequate sleep can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease.

A recent study found individuals who had less than six hours of sleep per night or who woke frequently were about 30 percent more likely to have atherosclerosis compared to individuals with healthier sleep patterns.

Poor sleep can contribute to weight gain.

A recent study supports previous research that connects inadequate sleep with elevated cortisol, increased obesity, and other aspects of metabolic syndrome like insulin resistance. Oh, and if you fall asleep with the TV on, that makes things even worse. Another recent study found that having light or the TV on when sleeping was associated with a weight gain of up to 11 pounds and a 10 percent increase in body mass index over a 5 year period compared to not having a light or the TV on.

Lack of sleep can contribute to anxiety

We know that if we’re anxious, we don’t sleep as well. But a recent study found it works the other way around too – inadequate sleep can increase anxiety by as much as 30 percent.

Disordered sleep might be associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Studies have shown a lack of deep sleep (non-REM sleep) could be associated with the plaques and abnormal proteins in the brain associated with AD.

It can work the other way around too – seemingly unrelated things in your body could be affecting your sleep – the bugs in your gut, for example.

A new study found that the more different strains of beneficial bacteria you have in your intestinal tract, the better your sleep quantity and quality.

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