Sleep & Disease Risk

23.05.2017 |

Episode #4 of the course How to manufacture the greatest sleep of your life by Austin Gill


Yesterday, we talked about how hormonal disruptions (or metabolic disruptions) caused by sleep loss lead to weight gain. If unchecked for too long, these same disruptions can lead to metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.

Your disease risk is linked to sleep because sleep impacts how your body signals hunger and satiety, metabolizes glucose, and maintains energy balance (Schmid, 2015).

Ample studies have found that disruption of the body’s natural sleep cycle—as experienced by shift workers—significantly worsens metabolic health and escalates rates of chronic illness and early death (Borba Brum, 2015).

Sleep deprivation is also closely associated with mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

Some studies link these illnesses to your body’s inability, when it’s sleep deprived, to clear out metabolic waste that builds up in the brain during waking hours (Xie, 2013).

The relationship between sleep deprivation and metabolic or mental disorders is, forgive the cliche, a chicken and egg situation, since new studies are confirming that lack of sleep does predispose you to these conditions.

But the good news is that there is more and more evidence showing that improving sleep can positively affect your mental and physical condition—even in severe cases of sleep-related illnesses (Rusch, 2015).

Bottom line, consistently getting sufficient, quality sleep lowers your risk of developing metabolic diseases and mental disorders.

Which brings us, once again, to the importance of improving the quantity and quality of your sleep.


Sleep Improvement Tip: No Caffeine after 2pm

Caffeine is a drug—an amazing one that 85% of Americans use on a daily basis.

Random fact: coffee accounts for about 54% of all caffeine intake.

Relax, I’m not asking you to stop drinking coffee. Coffee has many potential health benefits such as protecting your liver from cirrhosis, reducing heart disease risk, and even preventing neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s (van Dam, 2005; Santos, 2010).

The caffeine in the coffee, however, does make it difficult to fall asleep and disrupts sleep quality during the night.

Because caffeine has a metabolic half-life of three to five hours, it takes your body that long to process and eliminate half your caffeine intake. Consequently, caffeine can disrupt sleep even when ingested as early as six hours before bedtime. (Drake, 2013)

The simplest way to avoid its impact on sleep is to stop caffeine intake at least six hours prior to bedtime, preferably eight hours.

Tomorrow, I discuss how sleep affects your energy levels and productivity, and the tip relates to the optimal temperature for sleep—I bet it’s different than what you’d expect.

Sleep tight.


Recommended book

Say Goodnight to Insomnia by Gregg D. Jacobs, Ph.D.


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