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Four Lesser-Known Ways That Sleep Affects Your Health

Sleep. We know that as adults, it is recommended to have between 7-9 hours of sleep to perform efficiently and maximize productivity. Dedicated medical professionals - especially residents - are included in the estimated 50-70 million US adults that have a sleep or wakefulness disorder. The CDC has also conducted research that shows that though disorders can be to blame, many times adults just suffer from sleep insufficiencies that can be attributed to busy work schedules and technology use.

If the fact that insufficient sleep has been declared a public health epidemic is not enough motivation to catch those ZZZ’s, these lesser-known advantages of sleep may make you consider taking that additional hour.

Increase Sleep, Decrease Blood Sugar

Every hour counts when it comes to regulating your blood sugar levels, whether diabetic or not. Mark Mahowald, MD, Director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center, explained to Medscape that our body reacts to lack of sleep in a manner that is similar to insulin resistance. Lack of sleep alters hormone levels, which then effects how the body metabolizes glucose. Dr. Lynn Maarouf, Education Director of the Stark Diabetes Center, stated, “People who are tired will eat more because they want to get energy from somewhere. That can mean consuming sugar or other foods that can spike blood sugar levels.”

Sleep Helps Prevent Getting a Cold

study of 164 men and women found that those who were sleeping the least were significantly more likely to develop a cold. Other key findings were that those who only slept from 4-5 hours per night were 4 times as likely to develop colds as those who slept 7 hours or more.

Improve Emotional Well Being 

When you do not get enough hours of sleep, several areas of your brain are affected including those that facilitate learning and aid in decision-making. This means that when you do not get sleep, you are not thinking clearly, which research has shown can increase the instance of anxiety and other social disorders. Adequate sleep helps to improve your physical and mental state, allowing you to feel refreshed throughout the day.

Migraine Relief

Over 36 million people suffer from migraines, and the disorder is especially prevalent in those aged 25 to 55 years. One study by researchers from Missouri State University showed that when rats were sleep deprived, there were higher concentrations of proteins that arouse the nervous system and lower concentrations of those that help to shut it off. Getting sleep helps prevent these arousal proteins from reaching levels that will result in headache pain.

Aptly named, Enclothed Cognition is the official Medelita blog for medical professionals interested in topics relevant to a discerning and inquisitive audience. Medelita was founded by a licensed clinician who felt strongly about the connection between focus, poise and appearance.