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How Lack of Sleep Causes Health Issues

by Dr. Jason Barker July 25, 2013

How Lack of Sleep Causes Health Issues

Ok, I’ve completed 8 weeks of my Ironman training plan. 16 to go!  I feel good and after an initial adaptation phase, where I was really fatigued, my energy is up and workouts are getting more energetic.

Earlier I told you about the few key supplements I’m using to keep my energy sustained and some of the other things I was doing to stay healthy and energized.

At this point however, probably the most important thing I’m doing is ensuring adequate sleep.

I can’t tell you how important sleep is, for all of us. I used to be (when I was young and …uninformed) of the mindset that “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”. Well, I can tell you now with great confidence that not getting adequate sleep will do many things to accelerate the process of ‘getting dead’!!

Sleep is one of our most precious health resources. Without adequate amounts, not only does our quality of life decline sharply, but we are more prone to a long list of negative health outcomes.

Limited Sleep = Driving Under The Influence

Both short- and long-term sleep deprivation induce such drastic declines in performance that a 24-hour period of no sleep, or a week of 4-5 hours per night is equivalent to having a blood alcohol content of 0.1%.(1)

(States impose criminal penalties for blood alcohol levels at 0.08 and above; Colorado does above 0.05%.) It’s no wonder that 20% of car accidents are related to sleep deprivation!(2)

The Costs of Inadequate Sleep

Inadequate amounts of sleep can lead to:

  • Increased resting heart rate and blood pressure.(3)
  • Increased inflammation.(4)
  • Impaired glucose tolerance (leading to diabetes).(5)
  • Increased appetite (and weight gain).(6)
  • Decreased immune function.(7)
  • Most shockingly, people who reported getting substantially less than 7 hours a night had a greater risk of dying than those who didn’t.(8,9)

With statistics like these, you can clearly see how important sleep is.

It's said an adult needs an average of 7-8 hours of sleep a night.(10) How much are you getting?

In my next post, I’ll tell you why so many of us have a hard time sleeping, and how this can be fairly easily repaired.

References:
1. Czeisler CA. Harv Bus Rev. 2006 Oct;84(10):53-9, 148.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2012 Apr 27;61(16):281-5.
3. Tochikubo O, et al. Hypertension. 1996;27(6):1318-24.

4. Meier-Ewert HK, et al. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2004;43:678-83.

5. Spiegel K, et al.  Lancet. 1999;354:1435-39.

6. Spiegel K, et al.  Ann Intern Med. 2004;141:846-50.
7. Spiegel K, et al. JAMA. 2002;288:1471-72.
8. Gallicchio L, et al. J Sleep Res. 2009;18:148-58.

9. Hublin C, et al. Sleep. 2007;30(10):1245-53.
10.  Online document at: http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/white-papers/how-much-sleep-do-adults-need. Accessed June 29, 2012.

 

Dr. Jason Barker
Dr. Jason Barker


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