A large number of adults in the United States aren’t getting enough sleep — about 84 million, which boils down to 1 in 3 adults. While the lack of energy and general fatigue are hard enough to negotiate, poor sleep quality can lead to a wide range of health issues, some of which are quite serious.
As sleep specialists, Dr. Dana J. Rockey and the teams at South County Sleep Solutions and Prescott Sleep Solutions have devoted our practice to helping clients get the restorative sleep they need through a wide range of services.
Our goal is to improve the overall health and wellness of our clients by finding ways to promote better sleep in order to offset some serious health consequences, five of which we review below.
1. Heart disease
Your body uses deep sleep to give certain systems a timeout, which includes your cardiovascular system. When you sleep, your heart rate slows and your blood pressure goes down.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, your cardiovascular system isn’t getting this much-needed break, which can lead to high blood pressure, which places you at far greater risk for heart disease.
2. Weight gain
There are several reasons why not getting enough sleep can lead to packing on the pounds. First, sleep deprivation can affect the part of your brain that controls hunger, turning off the chemicals that signal that you’re full. As a result, you feel more hungry than you should and you may overeat.
As well, sleep deprivation can also lower your willpower when it comes to food and, because you’re tired, you may opt for convenience foods that are loaded with sugar and fat.
3. Lowered immunity
A recent study found that a lack of sleep, even just an hour or two, can alter the structure of the DNA found inside your immune stem cells. These are the cells that produce your white blood cells, which are your immune cells.
As a result, system-wide inflammation can set in, which can lower your ability to fight infection and exacerbate inflammatory issues, such as arthritis. This inflammation can also affect your cardiovascular system, making you more vulnerable to heart disease.
4. Memory issues
When you sleep, your brain uses this time to sort through the events of the day, discarding what it deems irrelevant and creating memories of what it finds important. This memory-making occurs during your deep sleep and, if you’re not getting enough, you may not be forming memories.
This last consequence of poor sleep is a fairly obvious one, but it bears emphasizing. When you’re tired, you’re far more prone to accidents, whether you’re behind the wheel or walking down a flight of steps. Your body is tired, which can make you more clumsy, and your brain isn’t as alert as it should be, making you more vulnerable to danger.
The bottom line is that good, restorative sleep — about 7-9 hours a night for the average adult — is as important as eating and even breathing. If you aren’t getting the sleep you need, the side effects are numerous — the five above are just the tip of the iceberg.
To get the sleep that you need to improve your health on every level, we urge you to see one of our sleep specialists. To get started, please call us at 949-558-0554 in Newport Beach, California, or 928-235-6925 in Prescott, Arizona.