worried man awake in bed

Not Sleeping Enough? You Could Be at Risk for These Diseases

Sleep is incredibly important to our health. Aside from giving us time to recharge after the previous day’s stresses, it also gives our bodies and minds time to enact processes that help us stay healthy. Sleep is when the body grows and repairs tissue, regulates hormones and the brain commits information to memory.

So when we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies don’t get the opportunity to do any of these important repairs. That’s why poor sleeping habits can leave us at risk for some serious health conditions.


A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago indicates that a lack of sleep could increase the chances of obesity. Participants who got only four hours of sleep during the study had high levels of free fatty acids within their blood during certain hours. Their levels were at a 15 to 30 percent increase over the participants who got 8.5 hours of sleep.

The fatty acid buildup caused by poor sleep can impact our metabolism speed and insulin’s ability to regulate blood sugar, potentially causing obesity.


The fatty acid buildup from poor sleep can increase your risk for diabetes. Researchers found that the increase in fatty acid levels caused a higher degree of insulin resistance, which is a sign attributed to pre-diabetes.

Cardiovascular Disease

Sleep is essential for a healthy heart. People who don’t get enough sleep are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. Poor sleep disrupts biological processes that involve blood pressure, glucose metabolism, and inflammation.

People with sleep disorders are much more likely to experience a heart attack or a stroke.

Ulcerative Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes long-lasting ulcers within the lining of the digestive tract.

A 2014 study conducted by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital showed that there could be a link between the amount of sleep that a person gets and the inflammation responses within the digestive system.

More specifically, sleep deprivation is associated with production of inflammatory cytokines. This then leads to an increased risk of ulcerative colitis flare-ups.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Researchers have discovered a correlation between poor sleep and a greater amount of beta-amyloid deposition in the brain. The accumulation of this microscopic brain protein fragment is a definitive marker of Alzheimer’s disease.

When we sleep, the brain gets rid of this “cerebral waste.”

A lack of sleep causes this garbage-like buildup to accumulate and cause dementia.

Kate Singer