Absence of Shut-Eye Leads to Health Problems

Published Online: Friday, October 1, 2004

Drowsiness is not the only problem related to lack of sleep. Increases in blood pressure and levels of stress hormones are 2 of the short-term health effects associated with too little sleep, according to an article published in the Harvard Health Letter (August 2004). The article explained that when the body is sleep deprived it has more difficulty processing blood sugar and has reduced levels of leptin, an appetite-suppressing hormone. As a result, these changes can increase the risk of weight gain and diabetes. Lack of sleep also increases inflammation in the body, which is a key factor in the development of heart disease.

The Harvard Health Letter offers the following tips on how individuals may improve sleep:

  • Establish a regular bedtime schedule in order to set the body's internal clock.
  • Regular exercise can help an individual get a good night's sleep, but do not exercise within 3 hours of bedtime.
  • Try to reduce consumption of coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages and avoid them during the afternoon and evening.
  • If an individual's sleep is interrupted with having to urinate during the night, try drinking more fluids in the morning and afternoon and limiting fluid intake after dinner.

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