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How Sleep Affects Your Cholesterol Levels

By: Houston Sleep Solutions | Published 02/08/2022

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While you’re sleeping…

During sleep, your body is supposed to be restoring and recharging. Hormones get released that help your body and cells repair after the daytime stresses of life. Your blood pressure should drop, your heart rate should slow, and your breathing should relax. This is all a process of recovery from the hard work of a typical day. Speak to Dr. Montz, Dr. Maher, or Dr. Dunwody at Houston Sleep Solutions South and they will be able to help diagnose your symptoms and develop a unique treatment plan if appropriate.

Grown-ups should plan for 7-9 hours of sleep restoration each night. But what happens if you don’t get enough quality sleep? You can develop health problems such as sleep apnea that can lead to high cholesterol levels.

In a recent study of nearly 2,800 adults, it was determined that people who sleep too little each night, due to sleep apnea or other conditions, were more likely to have high triglycerides and low HDL (good) cholesterol. Conversely, their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels weren’t affected by their sleep. Finally, people who slept a full 8 hours per night had the highest HDL (good) numbers.

Why is it that sleep affects cholesterol? If you don’t get enough sleep, as is the case with sleep apnea patients, key hormones in the body can get out of balance. Your body may produce too much of the stress hormone Cortisol along with the appetite-inducing hormone Ghrelin, but too little of the hormone Leptin, which regulates body weight. This hormone imbalance can eventually upset your cholesterol balance as well.

Poor sleep quality can affect cholesterol levels, too. People with interrupted sleep as is the case with sleep apnea, experience breathing stops and starts throughout the night. These patients often have high LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides in their bloodstream, along with low levels of HDL (bad) cholesterol. People who are diagnosed with sleep apnea also tend to be overweight too, which can lead to high cholesterol.

Too little sleep

A lack of sleep can also affect adults’ cholesterol levels in different ways. In one large research study, men who slept less than 6 hours on most nights had higher LDL (bad) cholesterol, but women who slept the same amount had lower LDL. Men and women who snored during sleep had lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.

Sleep deprivation or staying up all night can make cholesterol levels increase. In another study, sleep-deprived mice showed higher blood cholesterol and more cholesterol buildup in their livers. The rodents also had lower amounts of an enzyme that helps process cholesterol.

The sleep-deprived mice also had dipped in two hormones, Leptin and Resistin, in their blood. Leptin is thought to be linked to high cholesterol because it helps regulate your body’s metabolism and appetite.

Dr. Montz, Dr. Maher, or Dr. Dunwody at Houston Sleep Solutions South will be able to help you determine if an oral appliance is right for you.

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