Many of us view sleep as something we can always catch up on later. But new studies highlight the effects of poor sleep on our health and ability to function optimally. The good news is sleep is a modifiable risk factor, and we can improve our sleep and sleep habits.
Insufficient sleep is associated with
- Weight gain: Studies show that people who habitually sleep less than six hours per night are much more likely to have higher than average body mass index (BMI) leading to an increased likelihood of obesity.
- Vision changes: Following poor sleep, researchers found slower work production when performing a visual search.
- Errors: Studies suggest that poor sleep is correlated with an increase in the number of errors on working memory tasks.
- Diabetes and impaired glucose regulation: Numerous studies reveal sleep difficulties may lead to Type 2 Diabetes, and one study found that adults who usually slept less than five hours per night have a greatly increased risk of having or developing diabetes.
- Cognitive impairment: Researchers found changes in concentration, memory, ability to focus, psychomotor function, and alertness following poor sleep.
- Workplace safety concerns: A higher rate of occupational injury rate was found in people who sleep poorly. Sleep deprivation adversely affects neurobehavioral function.
- Increased blood pressure: Poor sleep is correlated with an increased risk of hypertension in several studies.
- Mood changes: Researchers estimate a seventeen-fold risk of anxiety when sleep deprived.
- Car accidents: Drowsy driving is common, with 32 percent of respondents in a 2008 National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America poll reported having driven while drowsy, and 36 percent admitted to nodding off. Drowsy driving is a contributing factor in up to 20 percent of traffic accidents.
- Cancer risk: Short sleep duration has been associated with a greater risk of developing breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer.
- Knutson, K. L., & Van Cauter, E. (2008). Associations between Sleep Loss and Increased Risk of Obesity and Diabetes. Annals of The New York Academy of Sciences, 1129, 287-304.
- Pomplun, M., Silva, E., Ronda, J., Cain, s., Munch, M., Czeisler, C., Duffy, J. (2012) The effects of Circadian Phase, Time Awake, and Imposed Sleep Restriction on Performing Complex Visual Tasks: Evidence From Comparative Visual Search. Journal of Vision 12(7):14, 1-19.
- Kahol, K. P., Leyba, M. J., Deka, M. M., Deka, V. M., Mayes, S. M., Smith, M. M., & Panchanathan, S. P. (2008, February). Effect of fatigue on psychomotor and cognitive skills. The American Journal of Surgery, 195(2), 195-204.
- Knutson, K. L. (2010, October). Sleep duration and cardiometabolic risk: A review of the epidemiologic evidence. Best Practice and Research Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 24(5), 731-743.
- Ferrie, J. E., Shipley, M. J., Akbaraly, T. N., & Kivimaki, M. P. (2012) Change in Sleep Duration and Cognitive Function: Findings from Whitehall II Study. Sleep, 565-573.
- Nakata A., Ikeda T., Takahashi, M, et al. Sleep-related risk of occupational injuries in Japanese small and medium-scale enterprises. Industrial Health. 2005; 43 (1): 89-97.
- Zhou, H. P., Isaman, D. J., Messinger, S. P., Brown, M. B., Klein, R. M., Brandle, M. M., & Herman, W. H. (2005, December). A Computer Simulation Model of Diabetes Progression, Quality of Life and Cost. Diabetes Care, 28(12), 2856-2863.
- Harrison, N. L. (2007). Mechanisms of sleep induction by GABA(A) receptor agonists. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 68, 6-12.
- Conner, J., Whitlock, G., Norton r., Jackson, R. (2001) The Role of Driver Sleepiness in Car Crashes: A Systemic Review of Epidemiological Studies. Accident Analysis Prevention. 33: 31-41.
- Luyster, F.S., Strollo, P.J., Zee, P., Walsh, J. (2012) Sleep: Health Imperative. Sleep. 35 (6), 727-734.
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