The Globe and Mail examines the effects of poor sleep quality on overall health.

Everyone knows the draining effects of a sleepless night. And medical researchers have long since moved beyond simple cause-and-effect observations linking chronic sleep problems with poor health. They can now observe what is going on at a more precise level: genetic effects and how cells react to sleeplessness.

There are myriad health risks. At their worst, these can develop beyond general sluggishness to a heightened risk over time of diabetes, obesity or heart disease. It can also lead from mere fogginess to problems with the brain’s ability to flush out toxins, eventually leading to memory loss and dementia.

“Part of the issue is that disorders of sleep impact so many organs and tissue functions,” said Richard Horner, professor of medicine and physiology at the University of Toronto and author of the book The Universal Pastime: Sleep and Rest Explained.

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