There are short-term and long-term consequences when you often go into sleep debt. Dr. Matthew Walker, Director of the Center for Human Research Science at the University of California, Berkeley, tells us that short sleep predicts a shorter life. Poor sleep habits increase the risk of insulin resistance, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and death from all causes (Hyman, 2023; NHLBI, 2022). Dr. Mark Hyman, the author of Young Forever and senior advisor for the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, explains that lack of sleep drives most of the hallmarks of aging, such as inflammation, mitochondrial damage, and altered hormonal and nutrient-sensing pathways (Hyman, 2023).
How will you know that your sleep debt is impacting you? Look for the following tell-tale signs that your sleep habits affect your overall health.
- Brain Fog: You may notice diminished alertness, concentration, and perhaps even confusion or forgetfulness. Poor sleep interferes with the movement of short-term memories to long-term memories resulting in the symptoms of “brain fog.”
- Weight Struggles: Poor sleep is linked to excess body fat because it can disrupt appetite regulation, causing you to feel hungrier. The resulting increased calorie intake leads to weight gain.
- More Frequent Illness: Lack of sleep can cause lowered T-cells and increased inflammation, making one vulnerable to viruses and bacteria. One is more perceptible to acute illnesses (i.e., colds) and at risk for heart disease and other inflammation-related conditions.
- Emotion/Mood Changes: Lack of sleep can hinder the production of neurotransmitters and the regulation of hormone production resulting in changes to your mood and emotions. You may notice difficulty regulating emotions, feelings of heightened stress, and low mood.
Improve your sleep, not only for yourself but for those around you. Alert, focused, healthy, happy, and energetic adults are the best brain architects (learning facilitators and caregivers).
References and Resources:
Hyman, M. (2023). Young Forever: The secrets to living your longest, healthiest life. Little Brown Spark: NY
Dr. Mark Hyman. Why Sleep is More Important Than Diet-Optimize it Today! Podcast Episode 487
Walker, M. ( 2018). Why we sleep: Unlocking the power of sleep and dreams. Scribner: NY
Precision Nutrition. Hacking Sleep www.precisionnutrition.com/hacking-sleep