10 Effects of Sleep Deprivation…and Why You Should Care

effects_of_sleep_deprivation

Sleep deprivation refers to a condition of not having sufficient sleep. In today’s modern age, we’ve become increasingly busy to the extent of subtracting from?our sleep time as we rush to attend to our responsibilities. Some of us have developed the habit of watching TV, playing games or even remaining in office till late in the night. We prioritize our work more than our sleep! At times we take too much coffee or tea late in the evening, or we are exposed to factors that make us stay awake for long. For instance, some people stay awake all night long up to 3 am and then they sleep till 7am. For an adult that should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep, that’s almost a 50% loss. It may sound somewhat insignificant…but did you know that this mentality can have profound effects on your health? To bring this home with further clarity, here are 10 common effects of sleep deprivation of which you should be aware.

#1 – It Kills Sex Drive

loss of libido and intimacySeveral studies done on sleep show that sleep-deprived women and men experience low libido and are less interested in sex. They experience this alongside reduced energy, increased tension and feelings of sleepiness. A 2002 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism shows that men with sleep apnea also secrete lower levels of testosterone–which is important to sexual health ?and ?muscle growth and repair. Therefore, lack of sleep can kill your sex drive (which is really bad!) and also make your attempts to get that great body basically null and void. On top of all of that, a deteriorating intimate relationship can make the bedroom a place of anxiety, which worsens the sleep environment.

#2?- Negative Effects on the Skin

wrinkled skinIf you miss sleep for a few nights, you are more likely to experience puffy eyes and saggy skin. Furthermore, insufficient sleep also causes dull skin, dark circles and fine lines below your eyes. Several scientific studies have revealed that insufficient sleep leads to excessive secretion of cortisol which breaks down collagen in your skin. Collagen is responsible for making your skin smooth and flexible. This is what makes our skin appear thick, robust and elastic.?In addition, sleep deprivation also causes a reduction in the production of growth hormone, which is likely to impair physical development particularly in adolescents.

#3?- Suppressed Immune System

feeling sickDid you know that your immune system produces cytokines, inflammation-fighting cells, and antibodies when you are asleep? These tools are used in fighting foreign substances like viruses and bacteria in your body. They are also beneficial in enabling you to sleep better, restoring energy and fighting illnesses. Depriving yourself of enough sleep, however, means you are doing harm to your immune system. Therefore, it won?t be able to kick out invaders as effectively, which means you may take longer to recover upon getting ill. Studies have shown that depriving your body sleep for a long time can make you develop chronic heart disease and diabetes. Lack of sleep has been shown to increase your blood pressure and leads to the clogging of your arteries with cholesterol which may lead to heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. Lack of sleep also increases your body?s resistance to insulin which is a risk factor for type II diabetes.

#4 – Increased Anxiety Level

increased anxiety levelsResearch shows that those who have insufficient sleep experience stress build-up. It is only through proper sleep that our bodies restore and repair themselves from the daily pressures we put them under. There is a strong bond between our bodies and minds such that when we lack sleep, we are prone stressful thoughts that may lead to anxiety. Biologically, chronic anxiety results from poor regulation of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol (which decrease when we sleep). Thus, if you get a little sleep at night, then you are more likely to develop anxiety.

#5 – Effects on Digestive System

obesity problemsStudies done by Harvard Medical School reveal that there is a close link between weight gain and insufficient sleep. Depriving yourself of sleep along with emotional eating can lead to obesity. When you don?t sleep well, the level of cortisol in your body increases. Moreover, the levels of leptin hormone are reduced, sending signals to your brain that your body is not full. Further studies have shown that insufficient sleep makes your body produce high insulin levels. It prompts your body to store more fat, hence increasing your risk of becoming diabetic.

#6?- Impaired Cognitive Ability

decreased cognitive abilityIf you spend the most of your night reading for an exam the next day, then there are higher chances of you failing! The reason is that lack of sleep is linked directly to a decline in mental focus during the day. According to the journal, SLEEP, missing sleep for one night may even cause a loss of brain tissue (very similar to what may occur in concussion episodes). Along with a decline in mental and cognitive ability, you can also become depressed. Lack of sleep leads to moodiness, causes difficulty to concentrate and impairs the ability to functional emotionally.

#7 – ?Risk of High Blood Pressure

blood_pressure_cuffExperts assert that sleeping for only 5 hours a night puts you at high risk of developing hypertension. Sleep regulates the production of stress-curbing hormones (eg. cortisol) which control healthy blood pressure. If you put your body through chronic sleep deprivation, then your chances of hypertension rise significantly since these hormones usually decrease with sleep. Prolonged wakefulness is likely to make matters worse! For healthy blood pressure, it is good to have a full 8 hours of sleep.

#8?- Increased Risk of Injury

injury and leg castThe quality of your sleep influences your daily performance. Insufficient sleep can take a toll on your ability to judge and perceive things. A study was carried out on 1741 men and women for a duration of 10-14 years shows that those who sleep for 6 or fewer hours experienced an increased?mortality risk alongside hypertension, memory loss, and diabetes. If you do a job that requires a high thinking level, then sufficient sleep should come ahead of everything else. Long distance drivers, pilots and other professions that require an active mind need sufficient quality sleep. Drowsiness, interestingly enough, has been know to reduce reaction time of an individual just like drunk driving. Similarly, several accidents and injuries have been reported in workplaces due to insufficient sleep.

#9?- High Risk of Developing Stroke

stroke diagramStudies done on insomniacs show that stroke is likely to occur in those with insufficient sleep. Not sleeping well can weaken your cardiovascular health, increase your blood pressure and even restrict the flow of blood to your brain. All these, when combined can make your vulnerable to stroke. Restricted flow of blood is also a risk of getting a heart attack. It is good to know that your body becomes stressed when you don?t give it enough sleep. A three-year study carried on 5,666 adults revealed that strokes become four times more prevalent for those who sleep for less than 6 hours daily. Currently, stroke has become the fourth leading killer disease in the world.

#10 – Moodiness

moody boyIt is easy to note emotional changes in an individual who is tired and feels sleepy. Research done shows more than 50% of those who are depressed have some sleeping disorder. This is due to the fact that certain?neurotransmitters work when we are awake or asleep that affect our feel-good hormone?serotonin. While its levels fall normally during sleep, abnormally lowered serotonin can cause further sleep issues, such as insomnia (it is actually a precursor to the creation of melatonin, the ‘sleep hormone’). This can lead to a vicious cycle of fatigue, anxiety and possible depression. Improve your mood, therefore, by having a sufficient sleep!


Depriving yourself of sleep is one of the worst?injustices you can ever bring upon your body. It affects both your health and mind. It can be pretty easy to note a sleep-deprived individual, the lethargic movements, forgetfulness and possible moodiness. If you want to remain mentally alert and improve your performance, then consider sleeping a necessity!

I do hope that you found this informative and that you will take the steps necessary to get great sleep. If you have questions or concerns, please share them in the comments area below!

Sleep well until next time.

–Josh.

10 Comments

  1. Marlinda Davis

    Very nice information that you have presented here. Sleep is very important and something that I try to get in no matter how busy my schedule is.

    I hope that this information helps others to see how important sleep is as well and perhaps make it more of a priority in their lives.

    tfs,
    Marlinda 🙂

    Reply
    1. Joshua (Post author)

      Hi Marlinda, I appreciate your comment. I hope that others see the importance as well, especially in this society where we’re more likely to be burnt out by our own schedules.

      Reply
  2. Darren

    Until reading your article I had no idea that losing sleep and lack of sleep could cause so many major problems. When you really think about it, it does make sense. I mean, we need to sleep for a reason, and you’ve highlighted those reasons in glowing detail in your article.

    It’s interesting that a lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, as you would think the opposite was true if you’re awake for longer and moving about more. But after reading about it here I now understand how it works.

    Reply
    1. Joshua (Post author)

      Thanks for your feedback Darren. Weight gain is a particularly debilitating side effect of sleep deprivation that unfortunately many of us miss! So try to get those hours in. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Simon

    Awesome info concentrated in short excerpts! A true eye-opener in terms of what to look for when we think we might be sleep deprived.

    From the 10 effects listed, I myself have experienced #1 and #3 in an obvious way.

    And clearly #10 is a modern-day problem. We’re all moody and nervous, constantly in rush to do this, do that etc.

    Btw, what do you think about Melatonin as a supplement to aid one’s sleep?

    Cheers,
    Simon

    Reply
    1. Joshua (Post author)

      Hey Simon, I’m glad you found the information valuable. Melatonin is pretty effective if you have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Though we make it naturally, if we consume foods like bananas etc that contain its precursors, that can really help reduce the likelihood of insomnia affecting our sleep patterns. So melatonin gets a big thumbs up from me!

      Reply
  4. Andrei

    Thank you for your post! I really have problems when it comes to sleeping due to the fact that I am very stressed. I usually end up sleeping at 5 AM and wake up anywhere between 11-12AM. I somehow got used to this and I can’t sleep before 4 AM. I didn’t know what the side effects could be and I actually experienced hallucinations when I slept around 30 minutes in 40-46 hours.

    Reply
    1. Joshua (Post author)

      Andrei, it sounds as though you may have delayed sleep phase syndrome (a circadian rhythm sleep disorder). I’d recommend getting to a sleep therapist right away. I figure a period of time with light therapy and melatonin could probably help restore your cycle to its proper timing. Do let me know your progress!

      Reply
  5. Jucing Fan

    Thank you for all these info here, I agree with everything you said. I remember years back, when I was working for a local TV station back home, because of the nature of my work, my sleep schedule has taken the backseat most of the time. And I was very unhealthy then. I will eat up a lot of junk thinking that it will cover up my lack of sleep, guess what it didn’t. Not at all… I also feel stress is piling up every minute and I don’t have the energy to deal with it. Until I had one of those annual medical exam for work that the doctor explained to me the results of the lab tests, my cholesterol is high, I’m overweight and so on… So she told me to jumpstart getting healthy or else I will suffer the consequences. And one of those things she strongly recommended me to do is to get enough sleep since she understood the nature of our work, she reiterated the importance of sleep in our everyday lives. She said that it’s the way of our bodies to recharge for the next day. So from then on, I made sure to get 8 hours of sleep every night, and never regretted it 🙂

    Reply
    1. Joshua (Post author)

      I’m glad you took her advice seriously! The value of sleep should never be underestimated 🙂

      Reply

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