Lack of sleep is overall bad for health. But a recent study shows us the consequences are worse than previously thought. Chronically-disrupted sleep can trigger heart disease and dementia. New research shows just how little sleep is too little.
It's more than just annoying, snoring is your body talking to you.
"Snoring is really the sound that is made by the upper airway muscles when the airway is collapsing," said Dr. Nancy Foldvary of the Cleveland Clinic.
Foldvary says anyone who snores has some degree of sleep apnea, which causes poor quality of sleep. The result can be dangerous plaque that stiffens the arteries.
"Poor sleep can alter the regulation of hormones, it can cause increased inflammation," said Kelsie Full, Ph.D, MPH, an epidemiologist with Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
This can lead to stroke, high blood pressure and dropping oxygen levels. The body is prevented from cleansing and repairing itself.
"For the brain, sleep is the time when the brain is flushed of harmful toxins," Full said.
Airway blockage can cause a person to unknowingly wake up frequently and feel tired upon waking in the morning. On top of this, many people don't sleep at the same time every night.
"In our large sample, we found that approximately 40% of adults had irregular sleep patterns, and their sleep was varying across the week by about 90 minutes or more," she said.
Researchers found inconsistent bedtimes equals less quality rest. Doctors warn that sleep issues should not be ignored.
"Most recently we've learned that people who...don't get at least seven hours of sleep per night, and this includes people with sleep apnea who have a lot of sleep disruptions, are at higher risk to develop dementia over the course of their lifetime when they get older," said Foldvary.
An estimated 83.6 million Americans sleep fewer than seven hours. Factors such as obesity, chronic illness and even where you live have an impact on sleep.
For more information, visit www.sleepfoundation.org.