The general idea of being fit is usually assumed to be regular exercise and a healthy diet. On the face of it, this is true to some extent, but it is not always the case. People don’t realize that sleep also plays a key role in terms of physical and mental well-being, as it is a restorative process that should not be negotiable.
Hectic work hours, increasing stress levels and unhealthy lifestyles can cause irregular sleep patterns. This not only disrupts your daily routine, but can also compromise your health, leading to life-threatening conditions such as impaired cholesterol and diabetes.
It is a common belief that cholesterol and diabetes are usually genetic diseases and are only caused by unhealthy eating habits and lifestyle. A report published in the Harvard Health Journal states that short-term sleep deprivation can put you at risk for both bad cholesterol and diabetes.
So let’s dive deep into how sleep affects cholesterol and diabetes.
What happens when you sleep
Sleep helps your body and mind repair and recharge. The release of a hormone called melatonin during sleep relaxes your body, leading to a slight drop in blood pressure and heart rate. But things can go awry if you’re sleep-deprived or have a disrupted circadian rhythm. Insomnia can generally cause your body to function abnormally. It affects your mental and physical ability to prepare your body for the next day. It leaves your brain exhausted and affects the natural functioning of the body.
The link between sleep deprivation and cholesterol
Lack of sleep can lead to increased cholesterol and blood pressure. A 2009 study called “The Sleep Problem” found that men who slept less than six hours had higher LDL cholesterol. In addition, women who slept nearly the same amount had lower cholesterol levels. Now it also shows that sleep affects men and women differently. Lack of sleep can lower levels of leptin, a hormone that stabilizes metabolism and appetite. There is no doubt that people who are obese often have higher cholesterol levels. Even in 2020, research from the Institute of Military Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Academy of Military Medical Sciences in Beijing showed that lack of sleep increases serum cholesterol levels and promotes cholesterol accumulation in the liver.
Diabetes and lack of sleep
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), irregular sleep patterns can increase insulin resistance in your body. A 2009 report in Diabetes Care found an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in people with persistent insomnia. Similarly, people with diabetes often suffer from sleep deprivation due to frequent nighttime urination. Even if you have prediabetes, poor sleep will worsen your glucose intolerance.
Lack of sleep has been found to increase levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and decrease leptin, the satiety hormone. That’s why people look for relief in foods that raise blood sugar. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Society for Sleep Research recommend that adults sleep at least seven to eight hours a day. Staying up late into the night means overeating and eating, which often leads to eating unhealthy foods high in carbohydrates and sugar. All of these increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and are equally linked to obesity.
Here’s how you can improve your sleep patterns and get quality sleep
Set a sleep schedule: Like any other routine, a clear sleep pattern can help you maintain a rest-activity cycle. Going to bed at the same time every day and getting up on time will help you get quality sleep.
Relax before bed: Properly relaxing your body and mind before bed can make you sleep like a baby. To do this, you need to put your phone away at least half an hour before going to bed. Make sure your room is dark and quiet. In addition, you can always read a good book or listen to soothing music that prepares you for a deep sleep.
Healthy diet and exercise are key: Along with a sleep routine, eating right and exercising regularly will make your sleep easier and more restful. Eat a nutritious, light meal four hours before bed. Exercising for 20-30 minutes is a must.
By following these tips and taking control of your sleep patterns, you can reduce your risk of high cholesterol and diabetes as well as improve your well-being.