Chronic Sleep Deprivation
In the long term
The clinical consequences of untreated sleep disorders are large indeed. They are associated with numerous, serious medical illnesses, including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Psychiatric problems, including depression and other mood disorders
- Mental impairment
- Fetal and childhood growth retardation
- Injury from accidents
- Disruption of bed-partner's sleep quality
- Poor quality of life
Studies show an increased mortality risk for those reporting less than either six or seven hours of sleep per night. One study found that reduced sleep time is a greater mortality risk than smoking, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Sleep disturbance is also one of the leading predictors of institutionalization in the elderly, and severe insomnia triples the mortality risk in elderly men.
Sleep loss may also be a contributing factor to obesity.
- John Winkelman, MD, PhD, medical director of the Sleep Health Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital and assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School sums up this finding nicely: "What most people do not realize is that better sleep habits may be instrumental to the success of any weight management plan."
- And Michael Thorpy, MD, director of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York adds, "Any American making a resolution to lose weight ... should probably consider a parallel commitment for getting more sleep."