The Link between Poor Sleep Habits, Obesity, High Blood Pressure and Diabetes

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The costs of not getting enough sleep at night are greater than you may even realize. Lack of sleep and sleep problems can lead to serious consequences for a person’s long-term health and it can result in obesity, hypertension and diabetes risks being increased. Researchers have long held up the fact that people who consistently do not get enough sleep are at an increased risk of chronic diseases and medical science is just now starting to realize why.

Sleep and Health: The Real Relationship

We all know how hard it is to function during the day when we haven’t gotten enough sleep the night before. Every one of us has experienced fatigue, bad moods and we are unable to focus after a poor night’s sleep. However, what a person may not realize is that not getting enough sleep on a regular basis puts us at risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension and heart disease. All of these medical conditions can lead to a decreased lifespan and additional studies show that too much sleep can also be associated with poor health.

Link between Sleep and Chronic Diseases

As chronic diseases have become more commonplace, there has been an increased interest in the role sleep plays in their development. Insufficient sleep has been linked to diseases like diabetes, obesity, depression and cardiovascular disease.


According to information from the Centers for Disease Control, insufficient sleep is linked to an increased risk for the development of Type II diabetes. It was noted that sleep quality and duration have emerged as predictors of levels of hemoglobin A1C. A1C is an important marker of blood sugar regulation. Optimizing sleep duration and quality may be the best way to improve blood sugar control in those with Type II diabetes.

Cardiovascular Disease

People suffering from sleep apnea have been shown to have an increased risk of different cardiovascular diseases. Most notable, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, cardiac arrhythmias and stroke have been found to be more common among those with disrupted sleep patterns. Furthermore, sleep apnea and atherosclerosis appear to share some characteristics, meaning sleep apnea could play an important role in the prediction of cardiovascular disease.


Lab research studies have found a link between shortened sleep duration that results in metabolic changes that could be linked to obesity. Epidemiological studies that were conducted found an association between short sleep cycles and obesity. The association is present in all age groups, but is particularly most common in children. It’s thought that sleep during childhood and adolescence is very integral to brain development, and insufficient sleep during childhood can adversely affect brain function in the hypothalamus, which controls appetite and energy, thus leading to an increase in obesity.


Considering all of the potential chronic health conditions that come from receiving insufficient sleep, it should come as no surprise poor sleeping habits are associated with a shortened life expectancy. Just as sleep problems can affect a person’s disease risks, several diseases and disorders can also impact the amount of sleep a person receives.

According to Harvard University, an estimated 50 to 70 million people in America currently suffer from some sort of sleep disruption. It’s very common that people do not mention sleep disruptions to their doctor and most doctors do not necessarily inquire about how a person is sleeping either.

The widespread lack of awareness concerning sleep disruptions is alarming. The impact of disrupted sleep is not only unnerving, but with all the associated diseases and ailments, it’s a cause for serious and costly public health problems.