The consequences of sleep deprivation are extremely important to acknowledge. Part 2 of Insomnia will address some of the effects on your health such as your metabolism and how it stimulates the effects of aging.
This article is discussing the impact of sleep loss not of a few days but continuous, long-term chronic sleep deprivation.
Chronic sleep loss can reduce the capacity of even young adults to perform basic metabolic functions such as processing and storing carbohydrates or regulating hormone secretion.
The release of hormones by the pituitary, also known as the “master gland” as it receives signals from the brain and controls the release of hormones from other glands, is markedly influenced by sleep. Well documented examples include pancreatic insulin secretion and release by the fat cells of leptin, an appetite-suppressing hormone.
The first effect of partial sleep loss on pituitary dependent hormones is an increase in evening levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Normally at this time of day levels should be decreasing to minimal levels for sleep. Elevated evening cortisol levels in chronic sleep loss are likely to promote the development of insulin resistance, a risk factor for obesity and diabetes.
Continuous high levels of cortisol increases the risk of developing stress related diseases. Symptoms of elevated cortisol may include: feeling tired but wired, difficulty sleeping, and anxiety. Excess cortisol can interfere with the action of progesterone and testosterone at receptor sites and could lead to symptoms of hormone imbalance. Continuous high cortisol levels lead to adrenal exhaustion.
Clinicians can often make a diagnosis of adrenal exhaustion solely on the basis of history and physical examination, but saliva hormone testing can be useful in the following instances: determining whether a patient is in the early stages of resistance and confirming suspected adrenal dysfunction.
Sleeping and food consumption are intricately related. Levels of hormones that regulate appetite are influenced by sleep duration as the caloric demands increase with extended wakefulness. The regulation of leptin, the hormone that signals to the brain that you are full, is decreased, particularly during the nighttime.
Another peptide secreted by the stomach that stimulates appetite, ghrelin, is increased. And the main food that one had an appetite for was one of high carbohydrate content. This may be why weight loss programs may fail involving caloric restrictions as it is adversely affect by sleep restriction.
Profound alterations of glucose metabolism can be observed during sleep deprivation. The body’s ability to secrete insulin and respond to insulin decreases. A similar decrease in acute insulin response is an early marker of diabetes.
Now, all of these conditions are not going to occur if you occasionally have a restless night’s sleep. However if you identify yourself as having insomnia due to the factors mentioned in Part 1 or have chronic sleep deprivation, it can help one to be motivated to either find out what is causing insomnia, attempt to restore sleep and understanding the consequence on ones’ body.
Maria Musitano, B.Sc.Pharm,
Concession Medical Pharmacy firstname.lastname@example.org