Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: Unusual sleeping patterns? The bedtime warning symptoms
Liver disease: NHS Doctor talks about link with alcohol
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Liver cirrhosis is a common life-threatening hepatic disorder. The main causes of cirrhosis are related to harmful alcohol consumption, viral hepatitis B and C, metabolic disorders, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
When it comes to a person’s sleep-wake cycle, there are two hormones which govern this action, namely cortisol and melatonin.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that is usually secreted just before you wake up in the morning, so one feels refreshed and energised for the day ahead.
Melatonin, on the other hand, is produced as natural light fades, helping one to feel relaxed and sleepy in preparation for bedtime.
When the liver is not in a healthy state, it is possible that your liver may struggle to breakdown melatonin.
This may result in increased bouts of daytime fatigue followed by night-time alertness when your liver finally gets around to deactivating the melatonin still circulating in your system.
Therefore, sleep disturbances between 1am and 3am are often linked to an unhealthy liver.
In a study published in the National Library of Health, sleep disturbances in those suffering with liver cirrhosis were investigated.
The study noted: “Sleep–wake disturbances are common in liver cirrhosis and associated with impaired quality of life.
“The most common abnormalities are insomnia (difficulties falling asleep and maintaining sleep, or unrefreshing sleep), excessive daytime sleepiness, and sleep–wake inversion (disturbances of circadian rhythmicity).
“Other common sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome or restless legs syndrome, are also more prevalent in patients with liver cirrhosis.”
A recent finding that might explain delayed sleep onset in cirrhotic patients has to do with heat loss through vasodilation.
This process essential for sleep onset and it has been demonstrated, in cirrhotic patients compared to healthy controls, that the circadian variation of core body temperature is impaired.
This means patients are unable to decrease their distal temperature at the end of the day hampering their sleep.
Another recent observation focused on glucose fluctuations in cirrhotic patients.
Since 70 percent of cirrhotic patients suffer from glucose intolerance or diabetes, this could also partly explain the disturbed sleep patterns in these patients.
Other signs of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease include:
- A dull or aching pain in the top right of the tummy (over the lower right side of the ribs)
- Extreme tiredness
- Unexplained weight loss
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