The Long-Term Effects of Sleep Deprivation and How to Avoid Them

This is a guest post by Jane Kitson (freelance writer).

Amidst increasingly demanding lifestyles the UK has become worn out. It is estimated that nearly 20 million Britons do not get enough sleep according to a survey conducted by Aviva Health Insurance. Despite the Sleep Council recommending between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night most adults manage no more than 6 hours and 19 minutes, leaving them feeling downright miserable. A lack of sleep has been associated with a number of long-term health and wellness concerns including the following which can have a severe impact on your general well-being.

High blood pressure

Sleeping for less than 6 hours a night has been linked to an increase in blood pressure. When we sleep, the production of stress hormones in the body decreases considerably. When we are sleep deprived, however, the exact opposite occurs. Studies have found that night-time hypertension is associated with substantial increases in cardiac-related illnesses and death. By implementing a range of relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises and mindfulness training prior to going to bed you can help your mind and body relax, resulting in sounder sleep and improved health and wellbeing.

Increased muscle pain

Did you know that your constant tossing and turning at night can lead to severe muscle and bone pain? The link between pain and insomnia is very complex. While pain can undoubtedly be the reason someone battles to fall or stay asleep, sleep deprivation can also decrease your pain threshold, making your existing pain feel substantially worse. If you have arthritis, for example, the pain can be increased by normal movement which will wake you up as well as prevent you from falling back to sleep. If you live with chronic pain it is of the utmost importance to ensure that you sleep on a good quality mattress with an added topper to help alleviate your discomfort and ensure you get a good night’s sleep.

Type 2 diabetes

Nearly 175 million people in the UK are believed to be living with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes, a condition that can be severely exacerbated by sleep deprivation. When you do not get enough sleep it wreaks havoc with the levels of leptin and ghrelin (the hormones that control feelings of hunger and satiety) in your body. These hormonal fluctuations can eventually lead to obesity which increases your risk of type 2 diabetes. Restricted sleep can also prevent the body from adequately processing glucose stores which are considered a hefty risk factor in the development of diabetes. In order to reduce your risk of illness, aim to sleep at least 8 hours in a dark room free of disturbances.

Sleep is as important to our health and well-being as following a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise is.  By making the effort to rectify any sleeping disorders as soon as they present themselves you will give yourself the best chance at a happy, healthy life.

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