May is National Better Sleep Month, so turn off that TV or computer and get to bed early. A lack of sleep can cause a host of health problems. And your teeth may suffer for it. Your overall health affects your dental health. Here’s what can happen to your health and your teeth if you don’t get enough sleep:
- Overeating: Two appetite hormones get out of whack when a person needs more sleep. The good hormone, leptin, goes down, and the bad hormone, ghrelin, goes up, according to the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic. And the more ghrelin you have, the more you want to eat. Overeating high-calorie, starchy and sweet foods, like potato chips and candy, can lead to tooth decay and cavities.
- Stress & heart disease: A lack of sleep leads to an increase in stress hormones in the body, a condition that’s bad for the heart. High blood pressure medications can result in dry mouth, a condition that can lead to gum disease and other oral health problems.
- Diabetes: A 2007 study published in Sleep Medicine Review found that “partial sleep loss may increase the risk of obesity and diabetes via multiple pathways.” A chronic disease, such as diabetes, puts people at risk for oral health problems.
- Depression: Over time, a lack of sleep can contribute to the symptoms of depression. In a 2005 Sleep in America poll, people who were diagnosed with depression or anxiety were more likely to sleep less than six hours at night. Depression can lead to a lack of energy and fatigue and make dental self-care more difficult.
So when it comes down to it, you need your sleep. Your overall health and your dental health depend on it!