Over the past century of the US population there has been a trend of one – to two – hour reduction in the average sleep time. Epidemiologist have linked changes in sleep duration patterns with several metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes type 2, cardiovascular disease, along with hormones and metabolic precursors for these conditions.
Approximately one-third of US adults sleep fewer than 6 hours nightly according to the National Health Interview Survey. 50-70 million Americans suffer from some sleep disorder and about 10% routinely use some form of habit forming sleep medication.
Excessive artificial light at night affects the circadian rhythms shifting our natural biological clock. It suppresses to production of melatonin, an important hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle and many biological functions. Too much electronic media interferes with getting a restful night sleep. Jet lag traveling between time zones regularly decreases sleep quality, cognitive function, increase cortisol levels and risk of cancer. Shift workers are also significantly affected.
Decrease duration and quality sleep increases the risk of many health conditions directly contributing to the modern epidemic of inflammatory disease such as cardiometabolic disease collectively referring to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. This is the number one cause of death and disability in industrialized nations.
Chronic sleep deprivation alters the immune response leading to increased cancer risk, susceptibility to infection, and inflammation.
The most noticeable effects of lack of sleep are changes occurring to our stress tolerance, cognitive function, and mood. Remember how you felt when your baby didn’t sleep through the night? Unable to focus and clearly think, more emotionally reactive, and poor stress response.
The effects of sleep loss on food intake explain the connection between obesity and impaired sleep. Several scientific studies demonstrate how impaired sleep affects cardiovascular and metabolic function.
Short sleep duration is also linked with difficulty loosing weight even with restricted caloric intake and increased exercise.
Low levels of artificial light at night may contribute to weight gain. This is by promoting late-night snacking and metabolic signaling disruption.
A single night of partial sleep deprivation induces insulin resistance even in people with no preexisting metabolic disease.
Make sleep a priority if you are not getting enough. Here are some suggestions to improve your overall sleep quality.