Why do we sleep?
One function of sleep is to “restore” what is lost in the body while we are awake. Sleep provides an opportunity for the body to repair and rejuvenate itself. Many of the major restorative functions like muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and growth hormone release occur mostly, or in some cases only, during sleep.
Enjoying quality sleep improves the quality of life.
What happens when I don’t get enough sleep?
The most immediate effect of sleep deprivation is sleepiness. In our daily lives, we may experience this as a general fatigue, lack of motivation, or even the experience of nodding off. Most people don’t get enough sleep and going without adequate sleep has negative short- and long-term consequences.
In the short term, a lack of adequate sleep can affect judgment, mood and the ability to learn. It may also increase the risk of serious accidents and injury.
In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a host of health problems. Click each topic to learn more about the increased risks associated with poor sleep.
Sleep deprivation impacts our reaction time, interpretation of events, and memory. We lose our ability to make sound decisions because we can no longer accurately assess the situation, plan accordingly, and choose the correct behavior. Judgment becomes impaired.
Being chronically tired to the point of fatigue or exhaustion means that we are less likely to perform well which increases the risk of accidents. Sleepier drivers are at a higher risk of falling asleep at the wheel and causing an accident.
Poor sleep can increase the risk for certain types of cancer, e.g. colon cancer and breast cancer. Getting just six hours of sleep a night has also been linked to an increase of recurrence in breast cancer patients. Clinical data shows a direct link between compromised immune system and poor sleep quality.
Insufficient sleep causes the body to produce more of the stress-related chemicals and hormones that can lead to hypertension and heart disease. When your heart rate increases during sleep in response to increased sympathetic activity, your blood pressure also increases. Chronically elevated blood pressure, known as hypertension, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Chronic sleep issues have been correlated with depression, anxiety, and mental distress. Studies have shown that improved sleep quality is associated with reduced chronic depression symptoms.
Insufficient sleep may lead to type II diabetes by influencing the way the body processes glucose. Poor sleep leads to an increase in the production of cortisol, often referred to as the "stress hormone." Higher levels of cortisol are likely to promote the development of insulin resistance, a risk factor for type II diabetes.
Sleep helps learning and memory in two distinct ways. First, good sleep quality allows the brain to focus optimally and learn efficiently. Second, sleep aides in the consolidation of memory. Sleep deprivation can lead to permanent cognitive issues. The less we sleep, the less we benefit from the memory-storing properties of sleep.
Poor sleep and insufficient sleep can spur some less-than-ideal food choices, including larger food portions and craving for junk food. This is a result of hormonal changes that occur with poor quality or insufficient sleep. Six hours of sleep or less increases production of the hunger hormone Ghrelin and limits the appetite controlling hormone Leptin.
Poor sleep is associated with lower life expectancy. Recent data shows a relationship between chronic insomnia and increased morbidity and mortality. Other studies show a similar finding for patients with sleep apnea.
Is my healthcare provider interested in knowing my sleep quality?
Yes, your healthcare provider is interested in your well-being and there is likely no single factor that impacts your overall well-being more than your sleep quality.
How can I share my sleep quality information with my healthcare provider?
Set up a SleepImage account free of charge and invite your healthcare provider via an embedded invitation process to interpret your SleepImage data. The Sleep Data Recorder is available for purchase. Find out more by clicking here.
Is interpreting my sleep quality data covered by insurance?
SleepImage provides clinical information that can be utilized by a healthcare provider for clinical assessment and, as such, may typically be covered by insurance as a consult. The SleepImage system is a tool that has a variety of applications, whether screening for sleep disorders or using it to maximize therapy efficacy.
Learn about SleepImage