The Heavy Costs of Sleep Deprivation: Dementia, Obesity and Death


Sleep: a universal paradigm that every sentient being must honor, understand and eventually succumb to. However, the fast pace of modern society often disrespects this paradigm, deprioritizing it above all else. In today’s booming economy, driven by technology and people-centric services, sleep is neglected daily by billions of people around the world.

Undoubtedly, many studies have discussed how lack of sleep has a huge cost.

One of the most important studies on this subject was published last year in Nature Communication. The study, which looked at almost 8,000 participants, found that lack of sleep was associated with a higher risk of dementia, among other serious cognitive impairments.

The study explains: “…we report a higher risk of dementia associated with sleep duration of six hours or less at ages 50 and 60, compared to normal sleep duration (7 h) […] Persistent short sleep duration at ages 50, 60, and 70 compared with persistent normal sleep duration was also associated with a 30% increased risk of dementia, independent of sociodemographic, behavioral, cardiometabolic, and mental health factors. These results suggest that short sleep duration in midlife is associated with an increased risk of late-onset dementia.

Although there are many scientific reasons for this, the physiological interdependence between sleep and memory function/consolidation has been established many times over the years. So the correlation of sleep with dementia makes sense.

Additionally, cumulative sleep deprivation has also been shown to reduce longevity. A study published in 2018 explains: “Reduced sleep duration has been linked to 7 of the 15 leading causes of death in the United States, including cardiovascular disease, malignant neoplasms, cerebrovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, sepsis, and hypertension. ” Ironically, too much sleep is also not recommended, as this is also associated with a higher mortality risk. This is one of the reasons why researchers have tried to quantify ideal sleep recommendations for different age groups. However, one important caveat is worth noting throughout all of these resources: no chart can quantify exactly how much sleep a person needs, as each individual’s physiology is different. After taking into account many external factors (eg sleep quality, life circumstances, other medical history, etc.), two people of the same age may need very different amounts of sleep.

Finally, if dementia and death weren’t enough paradigms to motivate a good night’s rest, scientists at the Mayo Clinic published a new study this month discussing how sleep restriction is associated with abdominal and visceral obesity. The study defined sleep restriction as 4 hours of sleep versus 9 hours of sleep for the control group; he explains, “With sleep restriction compared to control, participants consumed more calories…increasing protein intake…and fat…Energy expenditure was unchanged…Participants gained significantly more weight when they were exposed to experimental sleep restriction only during control sleep…While changes in total body fat did not differ between conditions…total abdominal fat only increased during sleep restriction…with significant increases evident in both subcutaneous and visceral abdominal fat deposition…”

Again, this finding is almost intuitive: sleep is not only restorative in terms of mental health, but is also integral to hormonal balance, metabolic regulation, and “resetting” function. of the organism. All of these individual parts together make up the complete picture of health, including fat accumulation, organ health, and overall longevity.

Unfortunately, despite decades of research showing the critical value of sleep, modern society continues to underestimate its importance. An article published by the World Economic Forum elaborates: “About 62% of adults worldwide feel they don’t sleep well when they go to bed. […] Although sleep duration can vary widely around the world, most adults still don’t get enough sleep. The average person sleeps 6.8 hours per weeknight, which is significantly less than the recommended 8 hours.

Indeed, society seems to have already deciphered the secret of longevity and happiness: a healthy respect for sleep. Now, it’s just a matter of navigating modern commitments and lifestyles to better prioritize this crucial aspect of life.


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