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Sleep reduces stress, and when you go for long periods without healthy sleep your body will respond by entering a state of stress. Here the body’s functions will be put on ‘alert’ much as they are during the fight-or-flight response and you’ll find a further rise in blood pressure and in your heart rate. This again puts your body at greater risk of heart attack or stroke, but additionally will make it even more difficult to get to sleep due to the presence of adrenaline in your system (part of the stress response). This can lead to a vicious cycle, making difficult breathing only one of the problems preventing you from dozing back off. The stress hormone also raises inflammation in the body which again puts you at risk of heart conditions as well as cancer and even diabetes. Inflammation has also been suggested to play a role in the aging process, which combined with your lack of growth hormone will really add up to rapid aging.
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Alternate spelling: sleep apnoea | Common misspellings: sleep apnia, sleep apena, sleep apneia
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