Is it hard for you to fall asleep or stay asleep through the night? Do you wake up feeling tired or feel very sleepy during the day, even if you have had enough sleep? You might have a sleep disorder. Although lack of sleep, which is when you sleep less then 7 hours at a time, was once uncommon, total is pandemic with roughly 35% of Americans reporting not getting enough sleep. Sleep disorders are very prevalent among obese people. This link with increased sleep depravation and the increase in obesity are a direct consequence. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common disorder, but disturbed sleep may also be due to primary insomnia, or insomnia secondary to medications, medical or psychiatric disorders.
In our clinic, we can link sleep disorders to other behavioral issues that a patient may not be aware is directly related to their sleep issues. Being sedentary, smoking and having hypertension are all co-factors of chronic lack of sleep. Additionally, patients with sleep disorders are more likely to suffer with depression, arthritis and asthma, all conditions that are related to the body’s immune system. Chronic lack of sleep is what I call “the sleeping tiger” of health conditions, as generally patients do not complain of being tired.
Sleep deprivation is directly linked to obesity. The primary putative connection can be found in the neuroendocrine regulation of appetite and food intake. Neuroendocrine regulation appears to be influenced by sleep duration and sleep restriction, with sleep deprivation favoring obesity as it increases serum cortisol and decreases serum leptin levels. Another reason for the sleep disorder-obesity connection may be simply that the more time a person spends awake, the more time they have in which to eat.
Insufficient sleep causes important neurocognitive changes such as excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue and altered mood. These may, in turn, have a significant impact on the patient’s ability to persist with healthy lifestyle changes such as increasing their level of physical activity or taking the time to cook a healthy meal. It’s a tumble effect and by the time the patient and I are reorganizing goals and behaviors, we see the sleep creep to the top priority. Once you’ve set a sleep pattern, it can be hard to break, but seeing it’s importance, you can check in with our health coaches to set up a sleep modification program and learn the techniques necessary for your health.