Get Some Sleep or Risk Cancer, Stupidity, Fatness, Misery, DeathS

Are you under the impression that you're beating the sleeping odds on your four hours of shut eye? Wrong, you sleep-deprived ninny! According to the New York Times, you're actually just getting dumber, slower, fatter, and more evil with every hour you don't sleep. (Sign me up!)

Here are some of the fun tid-bits from this super scary piece:

According to sleep specialists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, among others, a number of bodily systems are negatively affected by inadequate sleep: the heart, lungs and kidneys; appetite, metabolism and weight control; immune function and disease resistance; sensitivity to pain; reaction time; mood; and brain function.

Ahhhh! But wait, there's more!

Poor sleep is also a risk factor for depression and substance abuse, especially among people with post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Anne Germain, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh. People with PTSD tend to relive their trauma when they try to sleep, which keeps their brains in a heightened state of alertness.

It gets worse, fatty!

Several studies have linked insufficient sleep to weight gain. Not only do night owls with shortchanged sleep have more time to eat, drink and snack, but levels of the hormone leptin, which tells the brain enough food has been consumed, are lower in the sleep-deprived while levels of ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, are higher.

In addition, metabolism slows when one’s circadian rhythm and sleep are disrupted; if not counteracted by increased exercise or reduced caloric intake, this slowdown could add up to 10 extra pounds in a year.

You might even give yourself cancer, fatty!

The risk of cancer may also be elevated in people who fail to get enough sleep. A Japanese study of nearly 24,000 women ages 40 to 79 found that those who slept less than six hours a night were more likely to develop breast cancer than women who slept longer. The increased risk may result from diminished secretion of the sleep hormone melatonin. Among participants in the Nurses Health Study, Eva S. Schernhammer of Harvard Medical School found a link between low melatonin levels and an increased risk of breast cancer.

A study of 1,240 people by researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland found an increased risk of potentially cancerous colorectal polyps in those who slept fewer than six hours nightly.

And won't someone think of the children??

Children can also experience hormonal disruptions from inadequate sleep. Growth hormone is released during deep sleep; it not only stimulates growth in children, but also boosts muscle mass and repairs damaged cells and tissues in both children and adults.

It goes on and on! The moral of the whole long, terrifying story is sleep or die. Uh, sweet dreams?

[NYT]

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