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[ Let Me Scare You to Sleep ]Degenerative Disease
Chronic sleep deprivation could be the most underrated driver behind the global non-communicable disease burden, with strong causal links to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and dementia.
Sleep deprivation traps our sympathetic nervous system in a constant fight-or-flight mode. More stress hormones are released, increasing blood pressure, and weakening our arteries over time. Simultaneously, growth hormone concentrations decrease, inhibiting the body’s ability to heal the damaged arteries.
These effects of sleep deprivation increase the risk of heart disease by 45%, jumping to 200% for middle-aged individuals. Given that heart disease is by far the biggest killer on the planet, these are truly terrifying numbers.
Immunity and Cancer
Lack of sleep also compromises the immune system, increasing our chances of catching a virus and lowering our chances of fighting off malignant tumors. In these Corona times, you should know that sleep deprivation increases rhinovirus (common cold) infection rates from 18% to 50%.
More worryingly, cancer rates increase by 40% in individuals sleeping 6 hours or less, mainly due to a large decline in the natural killer cells responsible for destroying malignant elements in the body. In fact, tumor growth is enhanced by sleep deprivation, strongly increasing cancer risk.
Obesity and Diabetes
Sleep deprivation disrupts the hormonal balance responsible for appetite control, leading to significant weight gain. Furthermore, these unnatural food cravings are strongly biased towards all the wrong kinds of foods, caused by suppression of the higher centers of the brain responsible for moderating primitive cravings. To make matters worse, if a sleep-deprived individual is put on a strict diet, weight loss occurs mainly from lean muscle mass.
In addition, sleep deprivation makes our cells unresponsive to the message of insulin to absorb dangerous levels of glucose, putting healthy individuals in a pre-diabetic state. All these effects increase the risk of diabetes and other serious illnesses associated with obesity.
The connection between sleep deprivation and dementia is particularly troubling. Alzheimer’s disease is caused by plaque build-up in the brain. Deep sleep can counteract this development, but the plaque inhibits our brain’s ability to generate deep sleep. This causes a vicious cycle where inadequate sleep causes plaque build-up, which again causes inadequate sleep.
Once this cycle is underway, complete mental invalidity is inevitable. On the flipside, preliminary results have shown that effective treatment of sleep disorders can delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease in high-risk patients by 5–10 years.
Genes and DNA
Sleep deprivation even distorts our genes. Researchers have identified 711 genes that are either abnormally revved up or suppressed by sleep deprivation. These effects are not yet well understood, but it is clear that chronic sleep deprivation is a potentially dangerous genetic engineering experiment being conducted on a global scale.
Furthermore, sleep deprivation causes telomere damage, resulting in faster aging and visibly older physical appearance.