Health Hazards linked to lack of sleep

Obesity and Diabetes:

Sporadic and irregular sleep can raise blood sugar levels and slow the body’s metabolism, increasing the risk of obesity and diabetes, according to an April 2012 study published in Science Translational Medicine.

“The evidence is clear that getting enough sleep is important for health,” said study author Orfeu Buxton, a neuroscientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Sleep deficiency can also lead to bad food choices, according to a study that found the sight of unhealthy food activated reward centers in the brains of sleep-deprived people.

“The results suggest that, under restricted sleep, individuals will find unhealthy foods highly salient and rewarding, which may lead to greater consumption of those foods,” said Marie-Pierre St-Onge from St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center and Columbia University in New York, and lead author of the study presented today at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Boston. “Indeed, food intake data from this same study showed that participants ate more overall and consumed more fat after a period of sleep restriction compared to regular sleep.”

Anxiety and Depression:

Sure, sleepless nights make for miserable mornings. But chronic sleep deficiency can lead to anxiety and depression — both serious mood disorders.

“People feel more anxious, restless, irritable, less satisfied,” said Dr. Mark Dyken, director of the University of Iowa’s Sleep Disorders Center in Iowa City, adding sleep deficiency can impact careers and relationships. “They have difficulty focusing and sometimes feel like they just don’t care anymore.”

Brain imaging suggests sleep deprivation can boost activity in the brain’s emotional centers, according to a study presented today at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Boston.

“Our results suggest that just one night of sleep loss significantly alters the optimal functioning of this essential brain process, especially among anxious individuals,” study author Andrea Goldstein from the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a statement. “This is perhaps never more relevant considering the continued erosion of sleep time that continues to occur across society.”

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