Our society seems to become more and more obsessed with the art of being “busy.”  Unfortunately, one of the things that suffers most from a hurried way of life is sleep.  Eating well, exercising, prioritizing mental health, and intentional stress relief are great habits.  Yet without a commitment to meeting sleep needs, bodies still suffer.  In short, a chronic lack of sleep absolutely can and does lead to undesirable health complications.

For most of us, it is not uncommon to hear colleagues, family members, and friends remark about feeling tired, rundown, or exhausted.  In fact, many adults experience extreme sleepiness.  Why do you think so many coffee shops become popular stops for caffeine refuels?  Working professionals and college students alike understand the sleeplessness that comes along with stressful deadlines and important projects.  

In our culture, we may joke about short nights.  But the painful truth is that sleep deprivation is not funny; it can be incredibly dangerous.  Sleep deprivation is a public health epidemic.

Why do our bodies need sleep?

While we can all acknowledge that oxygen, food, and water are critical needs for health and survival, so often, the need for sleep is overlooked.  Sleep allows the full body time for true restoration.  During sleep, our brains rest neurons and release growth hormones.  Sleep allows our bodies to create proteins to repair cell damage and produce infection-fighting antibodies.  Antibodies are required to help us battle bacteria and protect the immune system.

What health issues are caused by sleepiness? 

Feeling jet-lag, drowsy, irritable, out of it, emotional, or unfocused aren’t enjoyable.  But to be honest, they are not the worst effects of a lack of sleep.  If chronic exhaustion continues long enough, the body’s defenses weaken.  A weakened immune system increases the risk of developing significant health complications, including:

  • Diabetes: Research by the Center for Disease Control shows that the quality and duration of sleep impacts a person’s levels of Hemoglobin A1c, an important marker of blood sugar control.  In order for a body to function with the most effective control over improving blood sugar and thus prevent Diabetes, sleep is critical.
  • Obesity: Furthermore, hypertension, heart disease, irregular heartbeats, stroke, and weight gain are all symptoms of sleep apnea.  Studies show that for those who suffer with cardiovascular issues like hypertension, even just one night without enough sleep can cause elevated blood pressure for the entire day that follows.  
  • Depression: Although experts can’t always pinpoint if sleeplessness causes depression or vice versa, people suffering from depression tend to experience significant relief of symptoms when sleep increases.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, diagnosed insomniacs have a far greater risk (over ten times the likelihood!) of developing depression than others who sleep well.  

Undoubtedly, adequate sleep is vital to every human’s health and overall well-being.  Sleep allows the body to recover from the day and prepare for the next.

What are the benefits of healthy sleep?

Sleep enhances your memory.  Restorative sleep reduces your risk of dementia, heart attacks, strokes, and Diabetes.  Adequate sleep allows you to be more creative and helps you maintain a better mood.  You’re less likely to feel depressed and anxious when you sleep well.  Sleep reduces your cravings and helps you ward off sicknesses.  Prioritizing sleep is one of the most impactful things you can do to prioritize your health!

At Sleep Wise, you will often hear us say that it is never  too early or too late to prioritize great sleep.  If you need assistance sleeping well, you’ve come to the right place!  Your body is smart, and although we can’t change the past, we can teach your body to begin working hard to repair itself and bring restoration in the nights ahead– when you’re getting all the sleep you need.  Rest is attainable.  Sleep is a necessity – NOT a luxury.