For the first time, heart and thyroid function have been analyzed in the context of short-term sleep deprivation.
In a small study done by the Radiology Society of North America, twenty radiologists who work extremely long hospital shifts were tested in Bonn, Germany. In addition to blood, urine, and blood pressure, other parameters were analyzed. The subjects were tested before and after their 24-hour shifts with an average of three hours of sleep. All of the subjects were considered healthy.
Overall, the study found that the heart rate, blood pressure, and cardiac contractility had significantly increased after the 24-hour shift. Moreover, there were changes in thyroid function that could explain hypothyroid-like symptoms such as sluggishness or fatigue. On top of that, cortisol, the hormone we produce when under stress, significantly increased in levels; although this may in part be due to the stressful nature of the radiologist’s job.
Even though this study uses a small sample on a short-term basis, it suggests detrimental long-term effects of sleep deprivation on thyroid, heart, and adrenal glands that may be become harder to undo later on. Dr. Arem’s take on the effects of sleep on thyroid and immune system health is that it is as crucial as taking thyroid medication or eating a well-balanced diet.
“Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea are unsurprisingly more common in patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and hypothyroidism. That is why in his thyroid program, he strongly urges his patients who struggle with sleep issues to address them as soon as possible. It is the only way you can fully resolve your thyroid and immune system-related symptoms.”