Sleep Loss Affects Health

1 Sleep and diabetes relation

Experimental study found an association between sleep loss and diabetes, or impaired glucose tolerance. Impaired glucose tolerance, which is a precursor to diabetes, is manifested by glucose levels rising higher than normal and for a longer period after an intravenous dose of glucose.


Fig1: Sleep duration and it correlation with diabetes

Reference: Gottlieb et al. (2005)

2 Wide range of effects due to sleep deprivation

The studies discussed in this section suggest that sleep loss (less than 7 hours per night) may have wide-ranging effects on the cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, and nervous systems, including the following:

  • Obesity in adults and children
  • Diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance
  • Cardiovascular disease and hypertension
  • Anxiety symptoms
  • Depressed mood
  • Alcohol use


Fig2: Sleep needs with respective to age

Reference: National sleep foundation

2.1 Sleep deprivation consequences (short term)

  • Decreased performance and alertness
  • Memory and cognitive awareness
  • Physical appearances
  • Wound healing
  • Stress relationships
  • Immune system
  • Occupational injury
  • Automobile injury

2.2 Sleep deprivation consequences (Long term)

  • Obesity
  • Stroke
  • High BP
  • Cancer
  • Physiatric problems
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Mental impairments
  • Fetal and child impairments
  • Injury from accidents
  • Poor quality of life
  • Cardio-vascular problems

3 Sleep Loss Is Associated with Obesity

When a person sleeps less than 7 hours a night there is a dose-response relationship between sleep loss and obesity: the shorter the sleep, the greater the obesity, as typically measured by body mass index (BMI)—weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. Adults who slept 7.7 hours had the lowest BMI; those with shorter and longer sleep duration had progressively higher BMI.

Sleep insufficiency was associated with lower levels of leptin, a hormone produced by an adipose tissue hormone that suppresses appetite, and higher levels of ghrelin, a peptide that stimulates appetite. Obesity also contributes to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This most likely occurs through fat deposition in airways, causing them to narrow.


Fig3: Obesity and mortality


Fig3: Sleep deprivation leading to obesity


4 Sleep Loss Is Associated with Cardiovascular Morbidity

Sleep loss and sleep complaints are associated with heart attacks (myocardial infarction) and perhaps stroke, according to several large epidemiological studies. Several potential mechanisms could explain the link between sleep loss and cardiovascular events, including blood pressure increases, sympathetic hyperactivity, or impaired glucose tolerance.


Fig4: Effects of sleep deprivation

Reference: Optimum Re Underwriting Seminar Betsy R. Sears MSM, MT (ASCP)



Fig5: Effects of sleep debt




Mtech in Clinical Eng Jointly offered by Indian institute of technology Madras& Christian medical college Vellore& Sree chitra tirunal institute for medical sciences and technology Trivandrum.
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