Sleep deprivation is on the rise, and it is predicted to worsen; not get better. More and more people are working late nights, and taking on two jobs to supplement their income with the result that as a whole, humans are sleeping much less than they did 10 years ago. But that doesn’t change the fact that our bodies have not adapted themselves to cope with lesser amounts of sleep.
In fact, our sleeping needs have not changed over the course of several thousand years, despite our attempts to change it. Many people regard sleep as a time waster, and wish they could function without it. But, although sleep may seem at first glance to be a waste of time, and may not fit in with evolutionary logic, surprisingly, sleep still plays such a huge role in the health of the body – especially when it comes to HGH production. Now that should make sense why people who try to get by on little sleep always look older than their age, tired and haggard – Their HGH levels have been lowered by lack of sleep, while their aging process has just been raised a notch!
Sleep and cortisol
What else does sleep do? A lot. Sleep seems to play a role in preventing heart attacks. A lot of research has so far pinpointed lack of sleep as a major factor in increasing heart attacks. It seems that people who slept less than 6 hours a night had a far greater chance of getting heart attacks than people who had more adequate sleep. Curiously, too much or too little sleep seems to reduce longevity. The problem usually though, is NOT too much sleep, but rather, too little sleep amongst a large percentage of the population.
Why sleep influences longevity is mainly due to a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is called the stress hormone, because it is secreted by the adrenal glands in response to stress.
When stress levels rise, so will cortisol. Cortisol works by increasing the amount of blood sugar in the bloodstream. Heightened blood sugar levels will suppress the amount of HGH in the bloodstream, because of the increased insulin needed to clear it off.
But in spite of the increased insulin, researchers find that blood sugar levels in the bloodstream fail to drop down to normal levels for a long time after food intake. This is because cortisol indirectly suppresses insulin. So, in other words, cortisol is the enemy of BOTH insulin and HGH. Over time, constant high levels of cortisol may lead to increasing resistance to insulin, and thus it may open a pathway to type 2 diabetes.
For all its negative effects, cortisol has been labeled by some as the “death hormone.” Among its other negative effects is diminishing the immune system. It seems to do virtually no good to the body apart from preparing the body for fight or flight.
So with lack of sleep, cortisol is constantly being provoked, inviting a host of health problems to arise. And when most of your HGH is produced during sleep, not getting enough sleep means not producing enough HGH to meet the needs of your body. The result of lowered HGH levels and increased cortisol will definitely result in reduced longevity in the long run, make no mistake!