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There are certain things people require to survive. These are things like water and food. Another thing that human beings need is sleep. Unfortunately, at least 25 percent of Americans don’t get enough sleep. A lack of sleep is the cause of many adverse health conditions that people suffer from. Here’s how lack of sleep could cause cancer.

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We can break sleep down into two categories. One is Rapid Eye Movement or REM sleep. This is the level of rest that contributes to approximately 20 to 25 percent of our sleep. The other category is Non-Rapid Eye Movement or NREM sleep. This is the level of sleep that makes up 75 to 80 percent of our sleep. Adults, on average, need seven to eight hours of quality sleep for healthy living that includes both REM and NREM. Disruption of these sleep patterns contributes to serious medical problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. Cancer, in America, is a serious health issue with one in two men acquiring it and one in three women acquiring it. This level of cancer puts the disease in epidemic levels for American citizens.

Here’s How Lack of Sleep Could Cause Cancer

There are studies that show that a lack of sleep increases a person’s risk of cancer. Cancer, by definition, is when the growth of abnormal cells is unconstrained. When this happens, the body’s control mechanism is not working correctly. Normally, old cells are supposed to die, but instead, extra abnormal cells are produced.

When a person is sleeping, the body works to control and regulate these cells. Therefore, a lack of sleep takes away from that process. The body repairs and restores itself during sleep. So when a human being doesn’t get enough sleep, the repair and restoration process is shortened. A person’s immune system needs to be strong to fight off cancer. Again, it’s when we sleep when we strengthen our immune system. Therefore, a lack of sleep doesn’t help in that manner.

With cancer, for example, when a person doesn’t get enough sleep, it can lead to chronic inflammation and insulin resistance. These conditions have been associated with various kinds of cancers, some more serious than others.

Another example, a 2003 study found on female nightshift workers that the disruption of circadian rhythms can be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. We find circadian rhythms in a wide variety of living things. For humans, it’s when we sleep at night and wake during the day. This is also known as our internal clock. But when our circadian rhythms are disrupted, it can lead to serious health problems. Melatonin is a hormone that the body produces to promote continued sleep. With lack of sleep, the hormone is decreased, and more estrogen is produced. Estrogen is known to be a risk factor for breast cancer. Still another example, a 2017 study found that lack of sleep in men under the age of 65 was associated with prostate cancer.

Sleep is needed not just to rest our bodies but to protect us from serious medical conditions. When we get enough sleep, we help our bodies fight things like cancer to keep us healthy throughout our adult life. It’s also been found that humans who have been diagnosed with cancer help themselves tremendously by allowing their bodies to get the amount of sleep that they need. Medical professionals assert that doing whatever we can do encourage normal rest, such as managing our stress, exercising, eating a healthy diet, etc., can help us repair our lack of sleep so that we get enough hours every night and stay healthy and disease free.