Prevention magazine just this week released a new summary article compiling a list of six diseases directly linked to lack of sleep.
Cardiovascular disease—In a 2010 study published in the journal Sleep, researchers at the West Virginia University School of Medicine reviewed information from over 30,000 people. They found a unique link to heart disease in those who slept fewer than 7 hours per night. Women are at greatest risk, especially females under 60 who sleep 5 hours or fewer a night.
Diabetes—According to a study in the journal Diabetes in 2011, researchers found that people with type 2 diabetes who slept poorly had extremely elevated fasting glucose and insulin levels and up to 43% higher insulin resistance levels. Those levels were even higher in diabetics with insomnia. Their insulin resistance levels were 82% higher than diabetics who didn’t have insomnia.
Breast Cancer—Researchers at Japan’s Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine studied data from nearly 24,000 women ages 40 to 79. They found that those who slept fewer than 6 hours a night had a 62% higher risk for breast cancer. Women who slept more than 9 hours a night had a 28% lower risk.
Urinary problems—Researchers at the New England Research Institute reviewed data from over 4,000 middle-aged men and women and found that five years of sleeping fewer than 5 hours a night can increase a woman’s risk of needing to wake at night to urinate or of becoming incontinent by 80 to 90%. Researchers believe that urinary problems are caused by inflammation due to sleeping poorly.
Colon cancer—Case Western University researchers found that people who slept fewer than 6 hours a night were 47% more likely to have colorectal polyps, which can become cancerous, than those who sleep at least 7 hours nightly.
Mortality—A 10-year study of over 16,000 people by researchers at the University of Copenhagen established a link between lack of sleep and an increased mortality risk. Men who reported sleeping badly had 2x the risk for death than those who said they slept well. Suicide risk increased 5x in men who had three or more sleep interruptions a night. Though sleep disturbances didn’t affect women’s mortality, both women and men with sleep disturbances were more likely to have high blood pressure and diabetes.