Sleep is a one of those topics everyone likes to talk about, but no one really does anything about. Every now and then, you'll hear someone talking about how much sleep you need, how important it is, etc, etc. But our lives are busy, especially at this time of year, and who wants to sleep when so much exciting stuff is happening?
Over the next few days, we're going to take a look at some important factors (especially for growing teens and young adults) that are hugely impacted by both quantity and quality of sleep.
Let's get some definitions out of the way.
When I say "sleep deprivation" I'm talking about sleeping seven or less hours per night. I know this sounds absolutely CRAZY, because who has time to sleep seven hours a night!?
Let's look at what the American Medical Association and the American Association of Pediatrics have to say about sleep:
According to recent studies, only 32 percent of American teenagers reported getting at least eight hours of sleep on an average school night. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that teenagers between 14 and 17 years of age should get 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep per night to achieve optimal health and learning. Click Here for the full article from the AMA.
Sleep Deprivation Effects Hormones: Yes it Does!
Research shows that insulin levels are not affected much with decreased sleep, BUT insulin sensitivity is - here's why that's important.
Decreased insulin sensitivity is a risk factor for the development of type II diabetes.
When you get only half your recommended sleep, or lose even ninety minutes for a period of a few weeks, risk factors increase. The good news - these effects are normalized with compensatory sleep (naps! Yay!).
Testosterone & Other Androgen (building) Hormones
Some studies show that getting three fewer hours of sleep for five days reduced testosterone by over 10%, while others have shown a reduction of over 30%!
Testosterone is geatly affected by poor sleep, but did you know these significant reductions happen within 24 hours of sleep deprivation?
For growing teens and athletes, this is one major reason to make sure you get your zzz's.
If you don't get enough sleep before competition, you are putting yourself at a HUGE disadvantage. Your testosterone levels will be lower than optimal, your performance will suffer, and you will be at higher risk for injury. Again, the good news is that once you start taking sleep seriously, these declines are highly likely to reverse themselves.
A large amount of growth hormone is released shortly after sleep begins, and in healthy young men, this accounts for roughly 50% of daily secretion. So does missing out on sleep impair growth hormone?
It depends on the length of sleep time.
Complete sleet deprivation for multiple nights can effectively suppress growth hormone, but it appears that an irregular sleep cycle, or only sleeping a few hours a night, will not adversely affect whole-day growth hormone production. The body seems to compensate during daylight hours for what is missed at night.
Cortisol is the hormone that gets right in the mix when it comes time to wake up, and under normal rested conditions, it’s elevated in the morning (to wake you) and suppressed in the evening (so you can fall asleep).
I know everyone says Cortisol is the devil, but It isn’t necessarily a bad hormone. However, elevated cortisol (which occurs with sleep deprivation), does tend to be catabolic to muscle tissue. This is not good. We want muscle to increase and be strong, not get broken down by Cortisol because there's too much of it running around in your system and it doesn't know what to do with itself.
Cortisol is normally high in the morning and low in the evening, but sleep deprivation normalizes this difference (lowering morning levels, increasing evening levels) and increases overall exposure to cortisol over a full day. This is bad news.
Was this post helpful or informative? Come back next week for Part II and feel free to like and share on your favorite social media platform.