Sleep deprivation, even for one night, can have a significant effect on our bodies and emotions. We can feel lethargic, unmotivated, grow increasingly irritable or impatient, experience questionable decision making and other cognitive impairments. But, that’s just what happens when we don’t sleep well for a day or two. Long term sleep deprivation, or chronic sleep loss, can lead to a wide range of health problems and have a dramatic impact on our quality of life. Here are some things you may experience when you don’t get sufficient sleep.
You Get Sick
Research shows that there’s a direct, reciprocal link between sleep and the immune system. A lack of sleep can hinder the immune system’s ability to fight off sickness. Additionally, when we are sick, the immune system’s response can alter our sleep. For example, we may need to sleep more in order for our bodies to fight off the illness.
Lowers Your Libido
Sleep can directly impact a man’s libido. Men who suffer from sleep apnea also have low testosterone levels, according to one study. It was discovered that even one week of sleep deprivation can lower testosterone levels, making men have less of a sex drive.
Decreases Your Alertness
Even missing a few hours of sleep can have an impact on mental alertness. We become less aware of what’s going on in our environment and our reactions to things become slower. It also impairs other cognitive functions like concentration, reasoning, and problem-solving.
Increases Chances of a Car Accident
Lack of sleep can make us feel drowsy during the day. And, it appears that this drowsiness can be a dangerous thing when getting behind the wheel of a car. Did you know that you are three times more likely to get into a car accident if you are sleep deprived, according to a report by The National Sleep Foundation?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also confirms this likelihood as they report that thousands of accidents each year can be attributed to drowsiness or falling asleep at the wheel.
Increased Risk of Diseases
Long-term sleep deprivation can increase our chances of developing a number of different serious health conditions and diseases. In 2015, researchers found that sleep deprivation can impair insulin function within the body and potentially lead to Type-2 diabetes.
Chronic sleep deprivation has also been associated with higher rates of various types of cancer, according to research done by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
And, if that wasn’t enough to worry about, the European Heart Journal published findings that your chances of developing coronary heart disease or having a stroke also increase with sleep deprivation.
Makes You Forgetful
During sleep, our brains are processing new information, consolidating memories and maintaining or improving our overall ability to recall past memories, according to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. When we suffer from sleep deprivation or sleep loss, our brain’s ability to recall or form memories is impaired. This makes us more forgetful as we are unable to remember things as easily or efficiently.
Makes You Moody
Lack of sleep definitely impacts the way we feel and interact with others. We can be moody and become more likely to have a conflict with others due to being impatient, intolerable and less than accommodating.
Contributes to Depression
When we don’t get enough sleep, we may experience temporary feelings of sadness or hopelessness the next day. These feelings can turn into depression if our sleep loss turns into a long-term sleep deprivation. A study in 2005, reported that those who suffer from insomnia are 10 times more likely to develop depression.
Makes You Look Like a Monster
Take a photo of yourself after a few days of little sleep. Then compare that photo to a normal one of yourself. It’s practically a night and day comparison. Sleep loss can increase aging, make wrinkles appear more prominent, and add dark circles under our eyes.
When well-rested and not sleep deprived, people eat roughly 300 fewer calories per day according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It’s believed that sleep loss can hinder our restraint on food choices and provide us with more opportunities to eat, especially when we should be sleeping. Additionally, researchers are starting to believe that there are direct links between sleep and the regulation of hormones like ghrelin which stimulates hunger, and leptin which signals to the brain that we are full.
How Much Sleep Should You Get?
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. For some people, this may be difficult to accomplish. If you are suffering from sleep loss then you might want to consider consulting with your physician. Additionally, a power nap during the day may also help to alleviate some of the symptoms experienced when you don’t sleep well the night before.
About The Author:
Nicky Ellis is an editor at We Sleep Well. She lives in London and loves writing about beds, mattresses, and all sleep related things. She is a mom of three who spends all her free time with her family, friends or just sipping her favorite cuppa of Earl Grey.