How Does Lack of Sleep Affect Your Health?

How does lack of sleep affect your health?

Question:
Michael Roizen, M.D.
ABOUT THE EXPERT

Michael Roizen, M.D.

As chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute of the Cleveland Clinic, Michael F. Roizen, MD, is on a mission to inform... Read more

When you’re getting less than the optimal six and a half to eight hours per night, you’ll notice you’re hungrier and thirstier. Lack of sleep causes your body’s dopamine levels to nose-dive. In an attempt to reproduce this hormone’s feel-good effect, the neurons in your brain seek out a sugar fix. So you eat or drink or crave sex or nicotine — all dopamine releasers — and that helps satisfy your brain cells’ craving for dopamine. But that fix lasts only so long, so you’ll crave that sugary stuff again and again on the day after inadequate sleep.

Too little sleep means your body also produces less rejuvenating human growth hormone (HGH), which likely affects your mood and energy level. So when you wake up each morning, all you want to do is go back to bed. And to top it all off, low levels of HGH also trigger sugar cravings, as well as a desire for salty foods. Of course, all of these side effects are also signs of depression. Consider this: If you think you’re depressed, you probably are. So get help. How can a family doctor or you tell if you’re depressed? One sign we docs use: If we go into a room to see a patient and come out depressed, it’s likely the patient is depressed too.

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