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Chronic Lack of Sleep Can Increase These 10 Health Risks

By HERWriter
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Everyone has had the occasional sleepless night. We've all had to live through times when we went to sleep too late or had to get up too early for our own good. It's uncomfortable and inconvenient but once in awhile, it won't hurt us.

But when lack of sleep becomes long-term or chronic, the scenario can change drastically. Not only does lack of sleep on a regular basis make you feel awful and dozy, it can leave you open to serious health risks.

1) Breast cancer

According to research from Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine in Sendai, Japan, breast cancer risk went up for those who slept six hours a night or less, and went down for those who got nine hours or more per night.

2) Cardiovascular disease

Women younger than age 60 are most at risk for cardiovascular disease, according to a study from the the West Virginia University School of Medicine. The study was published in the journal Sleep in 2010.

People who sleep less than seven hours at night may be more vulnerable to heart attacks and stroke. A study in Japan in 2011 showed that men who had less than six hours of sleep a night had five times the risk for heart attack than those who had seven hours or more sleep at night.

3) Colon cancer

Researchers from Case Western University discovered that colorectal polyps were more likely to occur in people who got less than six hours of sleep per night.

4) Diabetes

Research from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University, published in the journal Diabetes in 2011, indciated that the combination of inadequate sleep and type 2 diabetes higher fasting glucose level, insulin level and insulin resistance level can result. The worse the sleep problems, the higher the troubling numbers.

5) High Blood Pressure

Research in 2011 indicated that men 65 years of age or older had double the risk of high blood pressure when they missed out on slow-wave (the deepest level of) sleep.

6) Immune Dysfunction

Lack of sleep can contribute to a weakened immune system, and more flus and colds.

7) Mental and Emotional Problems

Depression, anxiety, increased stress and decreased cognitive and memory function can result.

8) Mortality

According to research from the University of Copenhagen it was seen that men, especially 45 years of age or younger, were twice as likely to die than men who were good sleepers. Suicide risk increased significantly for men who experienced sleep disturbance three or more times in a night.

9) Sleep Apnea

People with sleep apnea snore and gasp while sleeping. Heart rates and blood pressure rise and the peaceful rest that sleep is meant to be just doesn't happen.

10) Urinary Problems

Long term sleep disturbance can result in urinary disturbances as well. Research from New England Research Institute in Watertown, MA indicated that after five years of restless sleep, or sleeping less than five hours per night, many women will wake up during the night to urinate, or may even wet the bed.


6 Major Health Problems Caused By Lack of Sleep. Prevention.com. Retrieved July 20, 2015.

How Lack of Sleep Hurts Your Health. Health.com. Retrieved July 20, 2015.

Sleep Rocks! ...get more of it! UHS.UGA.edu. Retrieved July 20, 2015.

Visit Jody's website at http://www.ncubator.ca and http://ncubator.ca/blogger

Reviewed July 21, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN

Add a Comment2 Comments

Yes, lack of sleep is somewhat connected to all of these issues, but it's not the main factor, that's for sure, at least not for cancer. Keeping a healthy sleeping schedule is vital for our well-being, however, but for some of us, maybe because of stress, trauma, who knows what, it's impossible to sleep the right amount of hours per night.

December 2, 2019 - 2:08am
EmpowHER Guest

I don't really agree.
I had breast cancer.I wouldn't put lack of sleep down as part f the cause.Im thinking, with cancer in my system, my sleep patterns may have been disturbed.
Stress is a huge contributor to cancer.Everyone I have met, through treatment had an enormous amount of stress in their lives, including me.
So, dont go thinking, you will get cancer from less sleep,look at your stress levels tho.And by stress, I don't mean, running late for work a couple of times a week, I'm talking the sort of constant stress, like living with a narc, or stressing constantly about money,work, abuse, for years.Doesnt matter how much great food, or how fit you are, if you still have a constant high level of stress in your body,it's not a great environment for excellent health.

July 23, 2015 - 2:03pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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