The Physical Stress of Sleep Disorders

Last updated: June 6, 2019

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Sleep disorders can have a physical toll on the human body just like any other disorder. There are multiple sleep disorders; each of which has different symptoms. These symptoms are what differentiate one sleep disorder from another.

However, there are symptoms shared by almost all sleep disorders. These symptoms can result in stress on the body and can have adverse effects on the patient’s personal and work life. There are also physical effects that can result in bodily injuries and even death.

The immune system and lack of sleep

Lack of sleep can affect a person’s immune system. The immune system is the body’s defense system, designed to protect the human body against infectious organisms and viruses. It deploys a series of steps called the immune response. This allows the immune system to attack organisms and substances that invade body systems as well as protect the body from diseases.

Someone who doesn’t get enough quality sleep is more prone to getting sick. This includes exposure to even a common virus which can get a person sick. The less sleep a person gets, the slower his body’s recovery time is.

While a person sleeps the immune system releases proteins called cytokines. Some cytokines help promote sleep. If a person has an infection or inflammation, the amount of cytokines increases. When a person is sleep-deprived, the production of cytokines decrease.

There is also a decrease in the production of infection-fighting antibodies. Infection-fighting cells also decrease due to sleep deprivation.

Sleep and Glucose

Lack of sleep affects a person’s hormone levels. It also affects the body’s ability to regulate glucose. Lack of sleep affects the body’s ability to metabolize glucose. When a person is excessively sleepy that person has a higher risk of weight gain. That person is also at risk of type 2 diabetes.

Lack of sleep decreases a person’s ability to break down glucose. A person with insufficient sleep has a 40 percent lower glucose tolerance. This is a level that puts a person at risk of diabetes.

Sleep and motor skills

Insufficient sleep results in reduced motor skills, causing a reduced reaction time. A sleep-deprived person has poor hand-eye coordination. The decrease in motor skills caused by sleep-deprivation is worse than that caused by alcohol. This makes lack of sleep very dangerous. It can result in injuries because of vehicular accidents or workplace accidents. Narcolepsy can also cause an uncontrollable feeling of sleepiness which can cause car crashes.

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