Most of us know that if we don’t get a good night’s sleep, we wake up feeling tired and cranky, and we generally won’t be that productive during the day. However, how many of us know exactly how bad a poor night’s sleep is for our health? Here, we take a look at what the impact of having a bad night’s sleep can have on your health:
Lack of sleep can make you fat
Lack of sleep can make you fatter and more prone to diseases like Type 2 diabetes. An experiment conducted by Dr. Eleanor Scott, who works at the University of Leeds, demonstrated the impact that even a couple of nights of reduced sleep can have.
Volunteers were asked to cut their sleep for two nights in a row. Throughout the experiment their blood sugar levels were monitored and they participants were asked to monitor how hungry they felt.
The experiment found that not only did the participants blood sugar levels soar, but that they also had a desperate craving for sugary treats.
When Dr. Scott was asked why lack of sleep does this, she commented: “We know that a lack of sleep alters the levels of different hormones that are involved in how we perceive appetite and hunger,” she said. “So we get more of the hormones that cause us to feel hungry, and less of the ones that cause us to feel full. We also know that if you don’t sleep well, that affects the stress hormone cortisol, and that may be another factor.”
Dr. Scott’s was quite a small experiment, but a recent meta-analysis, carried out by researchers at King’s College London, found that sleep-deprived people consume, on average, an extra 385 calories per day, which is equivalent to a large slice of cake.
It’s not just that your blood sugar levels soar and your hunger hormones go into overdrive when you’re tired; the areas of your brain associated with reward also become more active. In other words, you become much more motivated than normal to seek out unhealthy foods such as crisps and chocolate.
So lack of sleep makes you fatter, but does being fat also make you sleep badly?
Yes, unfortunately it’s a vicious circle. Piling on extra fat (particularly around the gut and neck) also means you will sleep worse. Being overweight also greatly increases your risk of having sleep apnoea disorder that causes you to stop breathing hundreds of times a night. This will make you really tired and hungry and it is terrible for the brain.
If you are overweight, you might be interested in The Fast 800 online programme, which will provide you with the support, flexibility and guidance to help you lose weight. Many members on the programme have commented that they have not only lost weight, but also that their sleep and mood has improved.
Lack of sleep can lead the metabolic syndrome
Lack of sleep also contributes to metabolic syndrome, which is the medical term for a cluster of conditions that includes too much body fat around the waist, raised blood pressure and cholesterol, which in turn leads to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Metabolic syndrome, also known as Syndrome X, affects around 1 in 4 adults in the UK and has a major impact on future health, not only because it encourages further build-up of fat, particularly around your gut (visceral fat), but because it leads to increased insulin resistance. In other words, your body has to pump out ever increasing amounts of insulin to bring your blood sugars back to normal.
Again, if you have troubles with your blood sugars, you might want to visit www.thefast800.com to find out how you can help reduce your risk of Metabolic syndrome.
Lack of sleep can make you ill
Lack of sleep can also make you more vulnerable to infections. A recent study with identical twins found that when one twin was sleep-deprived it depressed their immune system and increased the number of inflammatory markers in their blood.
Lack of sleep can make you sad and irritable
Anyone who has been sleep deprived knows that it leads to anger and irritability, while at the same time sucking the joy out of life. If you are feeling anxious and depressed this will, in turn, affect how well you sleep. Again, this is a vicious cycle; being agitated keeps your body and brain aroused, just when you want them to wind down.
Lack of sleep can reduce your Sex drive
As well as making you feel simply “too tired for sex”, being sleep deprived suppresses the production of the two main sex hormones, oestrogen and testosterone. is, in turn, has a devastating effect on sexual desire.
The good news is that getting more sleep should improve your sex drive. A two-week study of 171 American women found that an extra hour of sleep increased the chance that they would want to have sex the following night by 14%.