How Sleep Deprivation Affects Health

Not feeling your best? Your lack of sleep could be the problem.


By Karen Rylander


If you’re eating well, exercising, and still not hitting your health goals, lack of sleep could be the culprit. As we sleep, our body works to repair muscles, boost our immune system, regulate hormones, and organize our memories. These things are vital! If you don’t give your body this down time and you fall into sleep deprivation, your health could suffer. The adage, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” couldn't be a worse slogan for your health. Lack of sleep hinders our immune system, imbalances our hormones, inhibits memory, impairs cognitive function and causes alterations in our metabolism and insulin sensitivity. This means without adequate sleep you can turn into a sugar-craving, grumpy, and forgetful version of yourself.

Let’s take a closer look at how exactly sleep deprivation affects your health. Check out this list of hormones that become imbalanced without adequate sleep. From this list, you can see that the effects are far reaching and most likely work against your health goals.

1. HGH:  human growth hormone is secreted during sleep. HGH is amazing. It stimulates tissue regeneration (think anti-aging), muscle building, breakdown of fat stores, and normalization of blood sugar. You want more of this. Without sleep, you’re missing out on optimal amounts.

2. Leptin:  this is the hormone that signals the body that it is full. Sleep deprivation causes leptin resistance. Higher resistance to leptin prevents proper signaling that we are full. This means without good sleep you can feel hungry and tend to overeat.

3. Ghrelin:  this has the opposite effect as leptin. This hormone signals the body to eat. It increases with sleep deprivation. This means a bad case of the munchies!

4. Insulin:  sleep deprivation causes chronically high levels of this hormone. Insulin is vital because it works to transports glucose from the blood to the cells for energy. But high levels lead to weight gain and insulin resistance which causes the cells to lose the signal to burn the sugar for energy.

As you can see, sleep deprivation is not your friend if you want proper hunger signals, more anti-aging HGH, and to avoid weight gain. Focusing on getting more sleep is a great way to contribute to your overall health. Here are some great tips to help you do that.

How to Get Better Sleep:

1. Follow a routine―the body loves routine. Our internal circadian rhythm follows the earth’s rhythm. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.

2. Have a balanced blood sugar throughout the day to avoid low blood sugar at night. This can cause a spike in cortisol, a stress hormone, that can wake you up.

3. Avoid TV, computers, iPhones, etc. an hour before bed and remove any electronics from the bedroom. Signal to your body that it is time for bed by avoiding bright light exposure. Sleep in complete darkness. Buy a blackout curtain if street lights bother you.

4. Keep your bedroom at a comfortable, relatively cooler temperature. Research shows that total sleep time diminishes when you’re too hot or too cold. Around 60-68 may be the right temperature for you.

5. Keep a journal by your bed so you can write down any nagging thoughts or concerns that may be hindering your ability to fall asleep.

6. Use a sleep app like Argus. This helpful app will track your sleep and set optimal wake up times so you’re less groggy. Hit the sheets tonight knowing that you will be helping your body restore, revive, and get ready for another day of pursuing your passions.

Karen is a certified nutrition consultant, trained chef, and real food enthusiast. She earned a B.A. in anthropology from University of Colorado-Boulder in 2000 and a professional Food and Wine certification from CookStreet in 2007. After adopting a primal-type diet in 2009 and finding great health improvements, she attended Bauman College in Boulder, CO to receive her certification as a nutrition consultant in 2011. She has been working with clients since then, helping them learn what foods to eat, how to cook them, and how to find greater health and vitality. For more information, check out her website, Go Primal by Karen.

Main Photo Credit: Spectral-Design/; Second Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images/; Third Photo Credit: KieferPix/; Fourth Photo Credit: Ju1978/

Thu Jan 28 16:26:23 UTC 2016

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Sat Jan 30 10:52:29 UTC 2016

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Thu Feb 04 00:46:53 UTC 2016

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Thu Feb 04 00:47:12 UTC 2016

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