How Sleep Impacts Chronic Health Conditions

While it is recommended that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each day, it is estimated that 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep deprivation. A lack of sleep, especially on a regular basis, is associated with long-term health consequences, including persistent conditions like diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. Click play on the video below to see Dr. Jeffrey Durmer, Chief Medical Officer at Fusion Health, discuss how poor sleep can increase the risk of chronic disease.


Research has found that even a single night of sleep deprivation can increase resistance to insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar levels. This influences the way the body absorbs glucose, the high-energy sugar that cells use for fuel, damaging the pancreas and kidneys while contributing to the development of type 2 diabetes. Numerous epidemiological studies have revealed that adults sleeping less than five hours per night have a greater risk of having or developing diabetes. In addition, researchers have correlated obstructive sleep apnea with impaired glucose control similar to that seen in diabetic patients.

Heart Disease

Sleep is also essential for a healthy heart. Researchers have found that people who do not get enough sleep have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease – regardless of age, weight, smoking and exercise habits. A study published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology showed that good sleep makes healthy behaviors even more effective. Participants in the 12-year study who paired at least 7 hours of sleep with healthy behaviors (not smoking, proper diet and exercise) were 65% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease and 83% less likely to die from heart-related issues.


People who sleep five hours or less a night may be at higher risk of developing hypertension or further elevating existing high blood pressure. Blood pressure levels naturally rise and fall in a circular pattern throughout the day. The levels tend to peak in the middle of the afternoon, and reach lowest points in the middle of the night during one’s deep sleep. High blood pressure, particularly at night, is one of the risk factors for heart disease. Studies have found that a single night of inadequate sleep in people with existing hypertension can cause elevated blood pressure throughout the following day.

How to Reduce the Risk of Chronic Conditions

The good news is that getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night can help to prevent chronic health conditions or, if an individual already has a chronic condition, can help to improve their condition. Making simple behavioral changes such as establishing a consistent sleep/wake schedule, avoiding caffeine late in the day and limiting exposure to light at bedtime can improve your ability to sleep well.

Having Trouble Sleeping?

If you have any questions or need more information on how sleep can help you be the best version of yourself, please contact the FusionHealth Participant Resource Center at or 1-877-615-7257.

Harvard Medical School
National Sleep Foundation

How Sleep Impacts Chronic Health Conditions