Sleep is such an integral part of our lives and so crucial to our overall health and well being that bragging about how few hours you sleep is less a badge of honor than a state of denial. Sleeping five hours or less a night leads to an increase in death from all causes by 15%! Far from being a passive state of rest, sleep is an extremely active and important process with specific patterns that maintain good health. For example, during sleep some physiological functions –like your heart, kidneys and respiratory system --slow down and provide regulation and rest. Others, like cell and neuron repair , and the release of all important growth hormone, increase.
The nation’s top medical centers and research centers have all conducted and released countless studies on the subject of the importance of sleep. The percentage of Americans not meeting their sleep needs more than doubled from 29% in 2009 to 63% in 2011. Up to 40% of adults reported at least one symptom of insomnia annually and approximately 75% of Americans report disturbed sleep in any given week. Over 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders and 60% are chronic.
Poor sleep affects every part of physical and mental well being and there is ever growing evidence that sleep deprivation or poor sleep results in increased risk for:
- Cardiovascular disease, including hypertension, coronary heart disease , arrhythmia and stroke
- Cancer and accelerated tumor growth
- Accelerated aging
- Developing high cholesterol and triglyceride levels and high blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Poor immune function
- Rheumatologic diseases like arthritis and inflammation
- Weight gain and obesity
- Lower life expectancy
Beyond chronic disease, lack of quality sleep can also be attributed to daytime exhaustion, depression and anxiety, difficulty losing weight, loss of sex drive and impotence, difficulty concentrating, poor memory, poor decision making, falling asleep while driving, and even a higher rate of divorce. All the more reason to address whatever sleep issues you have and do your best to resolve them.