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How Poor Sleep Affects Your Overall Health

by | Apr 15, 2020 | Health Tips

We all know how one night of poor sleep can negatively impact our mood, behavior, and overall wellbeing the following day. Having sleep deprivation and missing out on the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep on nightly bases can have a massive negative impact on your long-term health. Sleep, exercise, and diet are the three pillars of great health and our team here at Cool Springs Chiropractic recommends the people of the Nashville, Tennessee area do all they can to stay healthy!

sleep deprivation

Why Is Sleep Important?

Many people view sleep as a time when our body and mind shutdown to get some much-needed rest. However, sleep is a very active period which includes a lot of important processing, restoration, and strengthening. While scientists are still trying to figure out some of the mysteries revolving around sleep, it is well agreed upon that it is needed for optimal health and wellbeing. 

Sleep also plays a key role in helping us solidify and consolidate memories. Experiences we experience throughout the day must be processed and stored and many of the steps required happen when we are asleep. Overnight, pieces of information in our short-term memory bank are transferred to the stronger long-term memory bank. 

What Happens If We Don’t Get Sleep?

Getting less than 7 hours of sleep on a nightly basis can start to take a toll on our bodies. Without enough sleep, our brain and body systems won’t be able to function properly. This can lead to a dramatic decrease in our quality of life. Here are some of the ways a lack of sleep affects our health:

Central Nervous System

Our central nervous system is the information superhighway of our bodies. We need sleep to ensure it’s functioning properly and sending messages where they need to go. When we sleep, pathways form between nerve cells in our brain that help us learn new information we learn. 

The central nervous system also plays a huge role in how we behave. Sleep deprivation can lead us to feel more impatient or prone to mood swings. It can also compromise our decision-making process and creativity. 

Immune System

During sleep, our immune system produces protective, infection-fighting substances known as cytokines. These substances help our bodies fight foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Cytokines also help you sleep better, giving your immune system more energy to defend itself. 

Without sleep, your immune system can’t build up these substances. That means that you may be prone to bacteria and viruses. Long-term sleep deprivation can also greatly increase your risk for chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. 

Respiratory System

The relationship between your respiratory system and sleep often goes both ways. There are respiratory disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) that can interrupt your sleep and lower the quality. This can lead to difficulty falling and staying asleep. 

Unfortunately, this often leads to sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can leave you more vulnerable to other respiratory infections such as the common cold and the flu. It can also make existing respiratory diseases, such as chronic lung illness, worse. 

Digestive System

Believe it or not, sleep deprivation is a big-time risk factor for becoming overweight and obese. This is because sleep affects the levels of two hormones, leptin, and ghrelin.  These two hormones control the feeling of hunger and fullness. 

Leptin tells our brain when we’ve had enough to eat. Without the proper amount of sleep, our brain lowers the levels of leptin and increases the amount of Grehlin, which is an appetite stimulant. This can help explain why so many people are midnight snackers or often find themselves hungry right before bed.

Cardiovascular System

Sleep plays a vital role in keeping your heart and blood vessels healthy. It helps control your blood sugar, blood pressure, and inflammation levels. Sleep is also a key piece in helping the body repair blood vessels and the heart. 

Studies have found that those who don’t get the proper amount of sleep are more susceptible to cardiovascular diseases. Some scientists believe that insomnia can lead to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. We need sleep to ensure that our cardiovascular system, which is so vital to overall wellbeing, remains healthy. 

Endocrine System

Our bodies’ production of hormones is largely dependent on our sleep.  For testosterone production, we need at least three hours of uninterrupted sleep. A tireless night of tossing and turning can mess with our bodies’ hormone production. 

Lack of sleep can also affect growth hormone production, especially in children and adolescents. These types of hormones help our bodies build muscle mass and repair any damaged cells or tissues. Our bodies will release these growth hormones by itself, but a proper amount of sleep can help release more of the hormone. 

sleep deprivation

How to Treat Sleep Deprivation

The best way to combat sleep deprivation is to simply, get more sleep. This can be easier said than done, however, especially if you have been sleep deprived for several weeks or longer. After several weeks, it may be time to seek professional assistance. 

Your doctor may order a sleep study to ensure there are no underlying factors preventing you from getting a good night’s rest. If you are diagnosed with a sleep disorder, your doctor may recommend medication or a device to help keep your airways open at night. These will help you go to sleep and stay asleep. 

Other Ways to Improve Your Health

Sleeping is one of the most important ways you can keep your body healthy. Combining a healthy sleep schedule with a healthy diet and exercise can help us maintain our health. Other factors, such as chiropractic care, can help ensure that our body remains in shape. 

Chiropractic care can help improve your health and leave you feeling more relaxed. If you are looking for Chiropractic care in the Nashville, Tennessee area, our team at Cool Springs Chiropractic is here to help. Give us a call today to find out what it is we can do for you.