To Sleep—Perchance To Stay Healthy
Some people fancy themselves more or less above the need for regular sleep. They are mistaken. Most likely, their sleep deprivation has left them confused, or delusional. We all need sleep. It’s a fundamental requirement for survival. In rare instances where researchers have “experimented” with extended sleep deprivation, it’s been shown that lack of sleep soon results in serious health problems, ranging from a rapidly eroding ability to think clearly to hallucinations. Experiments on animals have proven that forced lack of sleep eventually results in death. There’s a reason sleep deprivation is often used as a form of torture.
Of course, those are extreme examples. But what about the far more ordinary form of chronic sleep deprivation experienced by millions of Americans every day? The longterm consequences of an untreated sleep disorder can be quite serious. This type of ongoing sleep disruption can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, mental disorders (including depression), accidental injuries, and poor quality of life. Poor sleep affects the immune system, making poor sleepers more prone to colds and the flu.
Studies suggest that chronic sleep deprivation of less than seven hours per night could be a greater risk factor for early death than smoking, high blood pressure, or heart disease. It’s even believed to be a factor that contributes to obesity. If your New Year’s resolution involves losing weight this year, you might want to keep this in mind. If you regularly skimp on sleep, you’d do well to stop. Getting the recommended eight hours that most adults need could actually help you in your quest to lose weight. Poor sleep has also been linked to insulin resistance, the condition that usually precedes type 2 diabetes.
Check back tomorrow for my list of tips for restful, restorative sleep that may help improve every aspect of your health.