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5 Health Risks of Too Little Sleep

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5 Health Risks of Too Little Sleep

Groggy, gravelly, grumpy. Most of us feel glum when we’re running on too little sleep, but not sleeping enough has implications beyond our general mood. For the 47 million of us in America who don’t get enough sleep (misery loves company), there are a number of health risks that we should keep in mind when deciding whether or not to burn the other end of the candle.

Colon Cancer
A ground-breaking new study published in the journal Cancer has found that people who sleep less than six hours per night on average had an almost 50 percent increase in the risk of colorectal adenomas compared with individuals who got at least seven hours a night. (Adenomas are a precursor to cancer tumors, and if left untreated, can turn malignant.) The study’s principal investigator, Li Li, MD, PhD,  said that the increase in risk due to less hours of sleep is comparable to the risk associated with having a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) with colon cancer, as well as with high, red meat intake. Although why less sleep may lead to colon cancer is unknown, Dr. Li said some of theories include that less sleep may mean less production of melatonin, a natural hormone that in animals has been linked to DNA repair, or that insulin resistance may underlie the link between sleep disturbance and cancer development.

Next: Diabetes

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Read more: Cancer, Diabetes, General Health, Health, Insomnia, Mental Wellness,

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


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7:14PM PST on Nov 11, 2011

Thank you for the information.

11:35AM PDT on Jul 14, 2011

Thank you for the article.

10:43AM PDT on May 29, 2011


5:26PM PDT on Mar 28, 2011

Thank You!

9:57PM PDT on Mar 23, 2011

Thanks for the information...however, I think it is general. I also read that sleep requirement is different for different age groups. Perhaps more research needs to be done in this area.

8:48PM PDT on Mar 23, 2011

good to know...thanks!

1:40PM PST on Mar 6, 2011

What if you would love to sleep more but society thinks that getting tons of stuff done is more important than keeping yourself healthy? I'd love to sleep more. I'm exhausted. But I'm an engineering student at an Ivy league university. Sometimes we just aren't given the option to sleep.

I feel like we may want to change society's perceptions on sleep and what should be expected of people, before we start trying to "scare" people into sleeping more.

On that note, colon cancer, heart disease, and diabetes here I come!

6:15PM PST on Mar 5, 2011

thanks for sharing.

1:35PM PST on Mar 5, 2011

Wow! I had know idea sleep was so serious to cancer.

8:48AM PST on Mar 5, 2011

Some natural remedies that work, from my personal experience:
white noise machine or fan
Herbs such as Gaia Herbs Valerian and Sleep Formula, also Jarrow Stress Tame
Supplements such as L-Tryptophan, 5htp, and GABA (these helped me when the herbs alone weren't enough
Ginseng (during the day to prevent adrenal depletion)

If you're sleep problems are ongoing, don't wait, get help for yourself as it can become a vicious cycle condition if you don't. Have your neurotransmitters and/or hormones tested (NeuroScience is a reputable lab) as imbalances often play a major role. These imbalances can then be treated with the natural methods (especially the GABA, tryptophan, melatonin) mentioned above. If you're currently suffering, don't despair you can begin sleeping well again.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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