Dr. Z Blog

How Sleep Affects your Health

Sleep and Your Health

We’ve all heard the saying “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” but not getting enough sleep may cause your untimely end to occur that much sooner! Sleep is vital to overall health, immune system function and healing and recovery. All too often sleep is one of the first things we sacrifice when we are low on time. Sleep should be the last thing we cut down on because without enough sleep we suffer.

Here are just some of the ways sleep can impact your health.


o Losing sleep has a negative impact on your immune system by decreasing the amount of cytokines that are made. Cytokines are a type of protein that targets infection & inflammation and helps create immune response in your body. Chronic sleep loss weakens body’s ability to fight off infections due to fewer cytokines. Naps can help fill in the gaps because they help decrease the negative effects of sleep deprivation on immune system.


o Sleep deprivation is significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes because when your sleep is decreased your hormone levels get disrupted. When you are sleep deprived production of the hormone that regulates your blood sugar levels, insulin, is decreased. And cortisol, which is a stress hormone, increases in your body when you don’t get enough sleep. When you combine low insulin levels and high cortisol levels it becomes more difficult for blood sugar to get into the cells. Over time elevated blood sugar levels leads to the development of type 2 diabetes.

Weight Gain

o A lack of sleep may change the way your body interprets hunger signals. When people are not getting enough sleep they often have an increased appetite and cravings for sugary, high carbohydrate foods. A lack of sleep also makes it much harder to resist those cravings. And when you are sleep deprived feelings of fatigue make it much harder to start and stick with an exercise program. Weight gain and obesity can then result and this occurs most often in those who report only getting 4 to 6 hours of sleep per night.

Skin and Appearance

o I’m sure we have all looked in the mirror after a couple days of missed sleep and seen those dark circles under our eyes. This is caused by fluid collecting under the eyes due to increased inflammation from a lack of cytokines. More inflammation can also make our skin more prone to break outs of acne and pimples. Chronic sleep loss can also cause our skin to appear wrinkled and old much sooner than if were getting enough sleep.

Mood and Memory

o And don’t forget memory problems and increased forgetfulness are also more likely after a couple nights of little to no sleep. This is due to a lack of time for the brain to process and store information properly.

o We are also much more likely to be moody or have aggressive or inappropriate behaviors when we are sleep deprived.

So what can we do after a night of poor sleep you may be asking. Naps are a great way to fill in some of those sleep gaps. A nap helps to decrease the negative effects of sleep deprivation on you immune system and they have been shown to lower stress, improve memory and concentration and improve your mood. If you can try to get two naps of 30 minutes or less during the day. Research has shown that a napping before lunch and again before dinner are the best times, unless you eat a late dinner. For most a 20 to 30 minute nap around lunch works best. You should also follow a pre-bed time routine and make sure your mattress and pillow are supporting your body for a good night’s rest.

For more information click the following link to our free e-book about sleep or contact our office at 822-BACK!