Lack Of Sleep Could Make You Sick (And Overweight, Sluggish, Dumb, Stressed)

Feeling grumpy, depressed or just plain out-of-sorts? The chances are that you didn’t get enough sleep last night. With a good night’s sleep tonight, you’ll probably feel just fine tomorrow.

But getting too little sleep for several nights in a row could have serious consequences for your health, according to a new study conducted at the Surrey Sleep Research Centre in the UK.

Professor Derk-Jam Dijk, who led the study, found that people who slept for less than six hours a night for a week showed substantial changes in the activity of genes that control their immune systems, their metabolism and the body’s response to stress.

What does this mean?

If you don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis, you are at risk for a number of ailments, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity and depression. Pulling an all-nighter may help you get that paper written, but staying up long hours into the night for a week on end is not just making you permanently tired; it’s also making you sick.

How Did The Study Work?

From The Guardian:

Professor Dijk’s team asked 14 men and 12 women, all healthy and aged between 23 and 31 years, to live under laboratory conditions at the sleep centre for 12 days. Each volunteer visited the centre on two separate occasions.

During one visit, they spent 10 hours a night in bed for a week. In the other, they were allowed only six hours in bed a night. At the end of each week, they were kept awake for a day and night, or around 39 to 41 hours.

Using EEG (electroencephalography) sensors, the scientists found that those on the 10 hours-per-night week slept around 8.5 hours a night, while those limited to six hours in bed each night got on average 5 hours and 42 minutes of sleep.

The time spent asleep had a huge effect on the activity of genes, picked up from blood tests on the volunteers, according to a report in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Among the sleep-deprived, the activity of 444 genes was suppressed, while 267 genes were more active than in those who slept for longer.

The researchers believe that these gene changes could trigger or exacerbate conditions such as diabetes or obesity, or have an impact on heart disease, stress and aging.

How much sleep do you need to bolster your immune system? According to the Mayo Clinic, the optimal amount of sleep for most adults is seven to eight hours each night. Teenagers need nine to 10 hours of sleep, while younger children may need 10 or more hours of sleep.

It’s not just about getting sick.

5 More Consequences Of Not Getting Enough Sleep

*  High Blood Pressure. A study found that adults who regularly cut out an hour of sleep for five years increased their risk of high blood pressure by 40%.

*  Accidents. Drowsiness can slow reaction time as much as driving drunk. According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatigue is a cause in 100,000 auto crashes and 1,550 crash-related deaths a year in the U.S.

*  Weight Gain. Whether or not you are eating more, a lack of sleep causes stress on your body, which triggers it to slow metabolism and store fat.

*  Intellectual sluggishness. You know what it’s like when you are so tired that you can’t think straight. Sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning. Lack of sleep hurts these cognitive processes by impairing attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning and problem solving.

*  Physical sluggishness. The less sleep you get, the more you want to stay inactive. According to the research, lack of sleep is a major reason why people stop exercising.

Are all these enough reasons to persuade to get your eight hours of sleep tonight?

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