Not Enough Sleep: 7 Serious Health Risks
Obesity, heart disease, diabetes ... the list goes on.
In a 2007 study published in Sleep Medicine Review, researchers from the University of Chicago found that “partial sleep loss may increase the risk of obesity and diabetes via multiple pathways.”After one night of sleep deprivation, the body has an impaired ability to handle a glucose load. This, along with appetite hormones leptin and ghrelin, has been connected to diabetes.
The link between sleep deprivation and diabetes is complex because diabetes has also been linked to obesity, which in turn has been linked back to sleep deprivation. Ultimately, lack of sleep “might lead to diabetes,” Kushida says.
The chemistry behind the link between headaches and sleep isn't clear. But that doesn't mean it's not real.
“Headache is a symptom of sleep deprivation, but more commonly, it can trigger headaches in predisposed individuals,” Kushida says. This can especially be true of migraine sufferers.
Headaches are “part of what it means to feel bad if you’re sleep deprived,“ Shives says.
The same brain chemicals involved in the sleep-wake cycle are also involved in mood and energy concentration. But scientists aren’t exactly sure how they all work together.
“Everybody knows you feel like crap if you don’t get enough sleep,” Shives says. “But mapping it out neurochemically, well, nobody’s done that. It’s why we don’t have a great pill for insomnia.”
6. Lapses of attention/delayed reaction times
Sleep deprivation has been linked to decreases in all types of neurologic functions. Students who don’t get enough sleep can do worse on tests. Employees who skimp can be more irritable to their co-workers. And when they get behind the wheel to head home, the combination can be lethal.
Just like drinking and driving don’t mix, driving with less than optimal hours of sleep is also dangerous. Shives has experienced the combination firsthand. As a junior doctor, she drove “after working 30, 36 hours. It was painful, painful driving home. And I was definitely worse than someone who has had three or four drinks. It was bad.”