Insomnia’s Negative Impacts
Your circadian rhythm evolved over hundreds of generations to align your physiology with your environment. Your body clock assumes that like your ancestors, you sleep at night and stay awake during daylight hours. This natural rhythm can be caused by uninvited insomnia or schedule changes that may or may not be within your control. If you confuse the situation by depriving yourself of enough hours of sleep or eating meals at odd hours (times at which your internal clock expects you to be sleeping), you send conflicting signals to your body. Based on the implications of this latest study, it’s easy to see how a compromised circadian system — caused by unhealthy sleep patterns — can lead to so many different kinds of disease. Proper cellular function and metabolism is essential for optimal health.
One of the worst things you can do to disrupt your body clock is to engage in regular night shift work. I realize many may not have a choice in selection of their job, but it is vital to understand that when you regularly shift your sleep patterns because of a job like police, fire or ER work, you are in fact sacrificing your longevity.
The Many Ways Disrupted Sleep Patterns Can Impact Your Health
Your individual circadian rhythm regulates activity throughout your body, from your brain, to your lungs and heart to your liver to your skeletal muscles. Numerous studies have shown the clear links between the quality of your sleep and your health. For example, your circadian clock influences your:
Short-term memory — Your circadian clock controls your daily cycle of sleep and wakefulness by alternately inhibiting and exciting different parts of your brain through regulating the release of certain neurotransmitters. The part of your brain known as the hippocampus must be excited in order for the things you learn to be organized in such a way that you’ll remember them later. If your internal clock isn’t functioning properly, it causes the release of too much GABA. According to a previous study, an excess of GABA inhibits your brain in a way that leads to short-term memory problems and the inability to retain new information.
Weight gain/loss — Lack of sleep has been shown to affect levels of two hormones linked with appetite and eating behavior. When you are sleep deprived, your body decreases production of leptin, the hormone that tells your brain there is no need for more food. At the same time, it increases levels of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger.
Diabetes and heart disease risk — Both too little and too much sleep may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. A 15-year study of more than 1,000 men found that those getting less than six or more than eight hours of sleep a night had a significantly increased diabetes risk. A similar pattern has also been observed in the relationship between sleep and coronary heart disease.
Immune system – Research has found that when you are well-rested you are likely to have a stronger immune response to viruses than when you have not gotten enough sleep. It’s believed that the release of certain hormones during sleep is responsible for boosting your immune system.
Cancer risk — Disruption of your circadian clock may influence cancer progression through changes in hormones like melatonin, which your brain makes during sleep, and which is known to suppress tumor development. Melatonin is an antioxidant that helps to suppress harmful free radicals in your body and slows the production of estrogen, which can activate cancer. When your circadian rhythm is disrupted, your body may produce less melatonin and, therefore, may have less ability to fight cancer.
Furthermore, according to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), lack of sleep can have an adverse impact on other serious diseases such as:
• Parkinson disease (PD)
• Multiple sclerosis (MS)
• Alzheimer disease (AD)
• Gastrointestinal tract disorders
• Kidney disease
• Behavioral problems in children
In addition to upsetting your metabolism, poor sleeping habits can also harm your health due to elevated levels of corticosterone, the stress hormone associated with road rage. When your body is under stress, it releases hormones that increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Your muscles get tense, your digestive processes stop, and certain brain centers are triggered, which alter your brain chemistry. Left unchecked, this stress response can eventually lead to a variety of health problems including:
• Increased anxiety
• High blood pressure
So What Can You Do to Fight Insomnia Symptoms?
Optimize Your Light Exposure Two major highlights that are important to know are that it is important to optimize your melatonin levels through optimization of your light exposure. It’s important to have consistent regular exposure to bright light during the day and sleep in absolute darkness at night. Typically, this is not possible unless you have blackout shades or drapes and turn off all the lights in your room.
Tune Your Body Clock for Optimal Health. Regardless of your age, the best way to keep your circadian clock functioning properly is to make sure you’re getting the necessary amount of high-quality sleep, during those hours when your body expects to be sleeping. The right amount for you is based on your individual sleep requirements and not on a one- size-fits-all prescribed number of hours.
Unfortunately, many people are quick to jump on the pill wagon once they start having sleep problems. But sleeping pills come with numerous side effects and can cause more harm than good. Better alternatives include using the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), listening to a brainwave synchronization tape or trying a natural remedy that can do the job without the side effects. It’s important to realize that even if you do everything else right (eat nutritious meals, exercise, manage stress) if you aren’t getting high-quality sleep, your health is bound to suffer in any of the numerous ways mentioned above.
Article obtained from Dr.Mercola