Practice What You Teach: Sleep Edition, Part Two

As a follow-up to the previous post on sleep habits, I wanted to talk a bit more about how sleep can have an effect on the body.

One study I came across states that people are more susceptible to contracting a rhinovirus (often referred to as the common cold) if they sleep less than 7 hours a day or more than 8, although the quality of that sleep is quite important (little to no disturbances that cause the individual to wake up in that time frame is better than continuous moments of waking up/disturbed sleep). Other studies have pointed out that adequate quality sleep may lessen risky behaviors in adolescents, increase alertness and school/work performance, decrease chances of obesity, and an increase in healthy behaviors.

In a study released in 2012, it was reported that, “Individuals with sleep deficiency due to short sleep duration accumulate a sleep debt and will exhibit an increased drive to recover the lost sleep leading to shorter sleep latency, greater total sleep time, and enhancement of EEG synchrony in NREM sleep.” The study goes on to say that people will be forced to sleep, no matter how much they fight the sleep. And that the circadian rhythm can be misaligned due to even a 6-hour travel difference, leading to health issues further down the line. One of the major points made in the study is that sleep is essential to our survival. The body begins to change drastically even after a few days or weeks of sleep deprivation. “Healthy young adults subjected to partial sleep restriction demonstrated impaired glucose tolerance, higher evening cortisol levels, alterations in sympathetic nervous system activity, reduced leptin levels (a hormone that regulates satiety), and increased levels of ghrelin (a hormone that regulates hunger).” If we don’t sleep, our body and brain forgets how to regulate our need for food, and we overeat, which increases our chances of obesity, diabetes, thyroid issues, and eventually premature death.


Relationship between sleep duration and prevalence of hypertension from the Sleep Heart Health Study. Data are adapted from Gottlieb et al.61 Odds ratios are for the presence of hypertension, from categorical logistic regression models using 7 to < 8 h sleep per night as the referent category. Model 1 was unadjusted. Model 2 was adjusted for age, sex, race, and apnea-hypopnea index. Model 3 was adjusted for all covariates in Model 2 plus body mass index.

All of this leads us to determine how we can increase healthy sleep habits? Start exercising; drink more water and less caffeinated beverages, especially closer to when you need to go to bed; get in to a pre-bedtime routine; when traveling, regulate your circadian rhythm as quickly as you can; and above all else, get a full physical to rule out any medical issues that may be going on. This includes getting blood work done, with hormone and vitamin levels checked.

Until next time, keep up the good work!

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