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Sleep: Part II- The Consequences

Source: alexgrey.com

Source: alexgrey.com

We all know that sleep is important, but are you aware of the consequences of not getting enough? There are many.

  • Increased Hunger
  • Decreased Satiety
  • Increased Blood Pressure
  • Decreased Insulin Sensitivity, Increased Blood Sugar
  • Hormonal Dysregulation
  • Increases in Inflammation
  • Negatively Impacts the Bodies Ability to Repair Itself
  • Impaired Cognitive Function

You can see that the impact of sleep deprivation (SD), or disturbed sleep, is pretty thorough. While we may be able to get away with a night of disordered sleep here or there, it can be very serious when chronic.

Sleep Deprivation can make us hungry, keep us from feeling full, and increase our risk of developing a metabolic disease.

Chronic SD stimulates several hormonal dysregulations. It contributes to low levels of Leptin, the satiety hormone, and increased levels of Grehlin, the hunger hormone. Resultingly, individuals will experience a higher level of hunger and problems becoming full. Additionally, Cortisol, which is commonly referred to as the stress hormone, and Melatonin, the sleep hormone, find themselves in a disordered rhythm. Melatonin secretion may be delayed and prolonged, not subsiding till we are well within the movements of our day. Cortisol, which should spike shortly after rising, will be held at bay (by the high melatonin levels) until later in the day and through the evening. This lends itself to a continuation of SD. The impacts of this reach further, having impacts on our metabolism. While melatonin is high the beta cells of the pancreas (which secrete insulin to deal with blood sugar) are told its sleep time, and therefore not able to maintain adequate insulin levels, while high levels of cortisol encourage elevated blood sugar. The result, high blood sugar and a decrease in insulin sensitivity. [1,2] In conjunction with the dysregulation regarding the hormones discussed here it is easy to see that weight gain can become a trend and increases the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

If that wasn’t enough to get you to bed on time, there’s more.

Blood pressure and markers of inflammation have been seen to increase during states of SD. In a single night, blood pressure was observed to increase by 12mmHg. Furthermore, interleukin-6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein (CRP), and TNF-alpha, all inflammatory markers, demonstrate a trend of elevation during SD. IL-6 acts as an inflammatory messenger, which stimulates CRP production. CRP is a general marker of inflammation and often used to gauge cardiovascular disease. [1]  Holding this with the above-cited evidence we can see that in addition to increasing the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, there is an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

Yet, there’s more!

Most of us have experienced a night or a bout with SD and have noticed the effect that it has on our cognition. So this will come as no surprise. SD has been linked to a reduction in cognitive function as it impacts the activity of the hippocampus. The hippocampus is directly involved in learning, memory, and regulation of emotional behavior and anxiety. Sleep disruption without having an effect on total time asleep had a negative impact on these markers. Not only can SD play a role on the things that commonly come to mind when we hear cognitive function, it also hits at subtler levels making it more difficult for us to regulate our emotions and increase the propensity for anxiety. [3]

And finally, SD can keep our bodies from repair themselves from normal wear and tear, not to mention the activities we may take part in to keep us “healthy.” During the first half of sleep growth hormone is secreted, and has been shown to be severely dampened or altogether abolished during bouts of SD.  Growth Hormone is responsible for sending the signal of repair to many different tissues in the body. If it is impaired, in association with everything else we see, our health and healing can be significantly held back and see further decline. [1]

Luckily, there are many things we can do to help ourselves regain a balance with all these factors to restore our sleep and support our Flourishing. Stay tuned for an article with lots of tips and suggestions to help restore and establish good habits for sleep.

References:

[1] Mullington, J. M., Haack, M., Toth, M., Serrador, J., & Meier-Ewert, H. (2009). Cardiovascular, Inflammatory and Metabolic Consequences of Sleep Deprivation. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, 51(4), 294–302. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcad.2008.10.003

[2]Scheer, F. A. J. L., Hilton, M. F., Mantzoros, C. S., & Shea, S. A. (2009). Adverse metabolic and cardiovascular consequences of circadian misalignment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106(11), 4453–4458. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0808180106

[3]Kreutzmann, J. C., Havekes, R., Abel, T., & Meerlo, P. (2015). Sleep deprivation and hippocampal vulnerability: changes in neuronal plasticity, neurogenesis and cognitive function. Neuroscience, 309, 173–190. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroscience.2015.04.053

Ryan Hall