Most of us, at some point or another in our lives, have experienced the symptoms of not getting enough sleep. Sleeping poorly or sleeping less hours than you need can make it hard to concentrate and also make you feel clumsy, drowsy and physically tired. Plus, the next morning, the fact that you had a hard night is written all over your face. However, what most people don’t know is that lack of sleep can have a number of serious long-term consequences on your health as well.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the average person should get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night in order to maintain good physical, emotional and mental health. Nonetheless, work, lifestyle and technology have led us to decrease the number of hours we sleep per night, and more and more people report experiencing a poor quality of sleep.
A recent study from the University of Texas found that people who do not get the minimum recommended number of hours of sleep per night, after 7 consecutive nights, presented genetic alternations that could lead to serious health problems such as obesity, heart disease, memory loss, and others. If you are a person who sleeps 6 hours or less per night, you certainly must be aware of the serious risks that not getting enough sleep presents to your health.
Increased risk of stroke
A study by the Mayo Clinic in the United States determined that people who do not sleep well experience an increased risk of having a stroke. Adults who sleep for 6 hours or less per night are up to 4 times more likely to present the symptoms of a stroke.
Risk of obesity
People who find it hard to sleep at night or who sleep for less than 6 hours per night tend to have a larger appetite and experience more high-calorie food cravings. The lack of sleep that they experience causes them to suffer from a number of hormonal changes that in turn affect their appetite.
Additional, sleeping poorly can have long-term effects, particularly obesity. According to a number of studies, a lack of proper sleep provokes significant changes in the body’s levels of ghrelin and leptin; these hormones are responsible for regulating appetite.
Increased risk of diabetesA research study by the Center for Disease Control found that low-quality sleep is related to an increased risk of chronic diseases such as type II diabetes, and that people who experience poor sleep are also less sensitive to insulin.
It’s no secret that a poor night’s sleep can leave you feeling more forgetful and less concentrated. What most people don’t know is that, in the long term, they can develop serious cognitive problems as a result of not sleeping enough.
Even going one night without sleeping every now and then can cause brain tissue loss. This happens because, when we fail to sleep, the amount of blood in our brain molecules increases, thus causing brain damage. A study performed by the University of California found that a lack of sleep leads to “brain damage.”
Increased risk of catching a cold
Sleeping for less than the required number of hours weakens your immune system, which makes you more likely to catch a cold or get the flu. These results come from a study carried out by Carnegie Mellon University.
When you fail to get enough sleep, your body produces more chemical substances and hormones that can cause you to suffer from heart disease. This conclusion comes from a study published in the European Heart Journal, which claims that people who sleep for less than 6 hours per night are up to 48% more likely to suffer from heart disease.
On the other hand, a study published by Harvard Health Publications says that a lack of sleep is associated with high blood pressure, clogged arteries and heart failure.
Possible increased risk of cancer
One study by the American Cancer Study found that not getting enough sleep could be related to a risk of bowel or breast cancer. This study, performed with 1,240 people, found that people who slept for less than 6 hours per night were up to twice as likely to experience bowel polyps, which, in the long term, can become malignant.