Many people like to joke that "I'll sleep when I die" but this saying is wrong. In fact, it should be "If I do not sleep, I'll die." I think modern life has made us think that enough sleep is not important and that our time is better off used to be productive.
However, this type of thinking is very harmful to all of us. There are several reasons to back up this statement. First, poor sleep increases the risk of obesity and weight gain; second, not having enough sleep can increase the risk of diabetes; third, poor sleep can impair cognitive control.
Poor sleep can increase the risk of obesity, especially for children. According to a research which was published in 2009, "sleep restriction results in metabolic and endocrine alterations, including decreased glucose tolerance, decreased insulin sensitivity, increased evening concentrations of cortisol, increased levels of ghrelin, decreased levels of leptin and increased hunger and appetite."
In layman's term, when we are sleep-deprived, our hormones that regulate hunger and appetite are out of whack. The hormone leptin that suppresses appetite and encourages the body to expend energy is reduced when we are sleep-deprived. The hormone ghrelin, meanwhile, triggers feelings of hunger.
This hormone increases when we do not get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation also changes what foods we are most interested in eating, creating cravings for fatty and sugary foods. Not to mention if we are low on sleep, our brain cannot make logical decisions about food, and we will be more likely to be impulsive and let ourselves eat junk food. Even a moderate amount of sleep deprivation can make us eat more the next day.
Not having enough sleep can also increase the risk of diabetes. Many people overlook that sleep deprivation is a huge risk factor for type 2 diabetes. According to a research by Van Cauter, lack of sleep is associated with a dysregulation of the neuroendocrine control of appetite consistent with increased hunger and with alterations in parameters of glucose tolerance suggestive of an increased risk of diabetes.
Getting too little sleep can make our appetite increase and also reduce our level of satiety, making us crave more carbohydrates and sugary foods, in particular. If we continue to indulge in these cravings or overeating, it can cause havoc on our insulin and blood sugar levels, and also our body weight which is a bad thing since obesity is also another major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Not only that, when we do not have enough sleep, we are more likely to feel exhausted and make us too lazy to exercise, which is a problem because regular exercise helps with weight management and blood sugar control.
Poor sleep can impair affective and cognitive control. According to research that was published in 2013, poor sleep may exaggerate the normative imbalance between affective and cognitive control systems, leading to greater risk-taking.
Simply put, poor sleep causes us to make bad decisions because we cannot think clearly. Poor sleep makes our brain unable to function optimally and because of that we are unable to make decisions based on logic and instead, we make decisions based on feelings. This may lead us to waste more money or perhaps make us do stupid things that we normally will not do.
To put it short, there are many negative effects that poor and lack of sleep can cause us, some of them are increased risk of obesity, increased risk of diabetes, and can impair our affective and cognitive control. That's why we need to make sure we get a good full night. Sleeping is a necessity, not a luxury. Society needs to stop looking as if sleep is a waste of time and instead try to see it as a requirement for good health.
About the Writer
Gabriela Jessica is a college student majoring in English Letters at Universitas Ma Chung, Malang.