Besides feeling tired, why do I need a good night’s sleep?

There are so many reasons that a good night’s sleep is important…but I will limit myself to 5…for now…these are not in any particular order…except for #1!  Now you’ll have to read on to find out…don’t cheat!

#5 – Weight Gain/Loss

Research shows that lack of quality sleep is linked to obesity.  The less you sleep, the more your body alters its normal body chemical signals that cause you to eat more or gain weight.  Two of these chemicals in our bodies are leptin and cortisol.  Leptin gives information to your brain about energy levels and also tells the body when it has eaten enough food…low leptin levels are associated with increased hunger (and they drop at night, which is why many people do their worst snacking at night.) Cortisol stimulates hunger and food intake, and increases in response to sleep deprivation.  Chronic insomniacs have high cortisol levels. The combination of low leptin and high cortisol lead to eating more and gaining more weight.  Plus…if you are tired, you aren’t motivated for exercise.

#4 -Depression

Does depression cause lack of sleep, or does lack of sleep cause depression? The jury may still be out on this, but it has been documented that patients with a deviated nasal septum AND depression have an improvement in mood when breathing is easier after surgery to correct the deviation.  The same thing goes for tonsil and adenoid removal in those patients with enlarged tonsils and adenoids blocking the airway, especially at night.

#3 – ADHD

There is no blood test for ADHD.  Interestingly, the symptoms of ADHD (especially in children) are remarkably similar to those occurring from lack of sleep. While medications may improve some symptoms of ADHD, think about why this works.  The medications are stimulants…and the patients are tired from not sleeping… so the medications decrease the symptoms. Have the child screened for a sleep disorder and also with an ENT for enlarged tonsils and adenoids…and correct those problems.  It may mean no more ADHD prescriptions.

#2 – Sex

I knew this would get your attention. The New York Times reported a trend of building two master bedrooms in homes for many reasons…but the number one reason was spousal snoring! If you think sleeping in separate bedrooms is good for relationships…think again. Snoring alone doesn’t ruin a relationship, but can certainly be another negative factor. Whether you are the snorer or the spouse of the snorer…you get poor sleep.  With poor sleep, “fight or flight” responses are increased.  There are certain parts of the body that, when under stress, do not get enough blood flow to work properly. Therefore, the parts may not function as you’d hope they will, the interest to use the parts may not even be present, and…fertility can be reduced while blood is being diverted to other major organs in the body.

#1 – Heart Disease

Stopped breathing several times each night leads to constricted blood vessels, preventing proper blood flow to the heart, and less blood pumped out of the heart. When the sleeper breathes again, chest pressure goes back to normal, and a sudden increase in blood flow through the heart leads to increased blood pressure. Over months and years of this happening, the high blood pressure moves to the daytime as well. Causing heart disease.  Many patients who are on “heart” medications now likely have an undiagnosed sleep breathing disorder…having this disorder treated now won’t correct the problems of many years of poor sleeping…but can elongate life.

Are there other reasons?

Absolutely…and I am more than happy to go into details with anyone who wants to shoot me an email.  I can best be reached with questions at I just figured these 5 were enough to gain attention.

The best is to have sleep disorders diagnosed sooner rather than later. If the disorder can be treated before the body has too much extra stress placed on it…it’s that much healthier we can all be.