A misconception of our bodies being inactive while we are napping or sleeping is one of the reasons that one-third of Americans don’t get enough sleep, according to the CDC. It isn’t just about rest. There are very discreet physiological stages that take place throughout the night and understanding them can help improve your health. Let’s take a look at some of the ways sleeping, or not sleeping, might affect different parts of your body.
The Brain. Going in and out of consciousness into slow-wave sleep allows our brain to work shifting short-term memories into long-term ones. However, a lack of sleep can impair the brain’s cognitive function. For example, if you stay awake for 20 hours it is the equivalent of having a blood alcohol level of .10 percent. Sleep can also affect attention, which means children with sleep disorders often show similar symptoms as someone with ADHD.
The Heart. Obstructive sleep apnea and habitual short sleep duration are associated with poor cardiovascular health. This has to do with how sleep regulates hormones that control our metabolism, including insulin, hunger and safety. Sleep apnea instantly affects the metabolism overnight, which causes a cumulative damage that could lead to heart disease or diabetes.
The Mouth and Tonsils. In older adults, sleep apnea is typically the result of being overweight. However, children and young adults usually experience it due to enlarged tonsils or an elongated soft palate. This means you might be able to solve your complications with a tonsillectomy instead of a CPAP machine or oral appliance.
The Bones. There are some studies that have shown that a correlation between osteoporosis and sleep apnea. Other studies have looked at prolonged sleep as a risk factor for lower bone density. While more studies need to be done to determine how the bones are affected, it is safe to say sleep apnea has some effect.
For more information on sleep apnea in Atlanta, Georgia, and how we can help you get a better night’s sleep, contact Dr. Patel at Craniofacial Pain & Dental Sleep Center of Georgia.