Today’s hectic lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits have a huge negative impact on sleep patterns. Add technology and handheld devices to the combination and you have a recipe for disaster. Most people today, especially the youth, are not getting as much sleep as they should. Though espresso and energy drinks may help you stay awake despite lack of sleep and enable you to complete your work, over time, sleep deprivation will prove to be harmful to your body.
Effects Of Lack Of Sleep
Your body requires 7-8 hours of sleep every day to perform optimally and rejuvenate itself for the next day. Lack of sleep adversely affects your health, memory, looks, and even your sex life. Here are 9 dangerous side-effects of lack of sleep.
1. Skin Aging
Lack of sleep can make you look tired and older than you are. People who are deprived of sleep experience sallow skin and puffy eyes. Chronic sleep loss can cause lackluster skin, dark circles under the eyes, and fine lines, which rob the skin of its beauty.
The growth hormone is released during deep sleep. Without proper sleep, the skin is unable to repair the damage caused due to stress. Stress is known to have an adverse effect on your skin health.1 Hence, ample sleep is a must for skin health and to beat stress.
2. Cardiac Problems
Many health problems such as heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes are associated with lack of sleep. The damage caused to the body due to insufficient sleep is severe and sometimes, irreparable.
Research has shown that 90% of people with insomnia also have another health condition. Insufficient sleep increases cardiovascular risk factors including blood pressure, glucose metabolism, hormonal regulation, and inflammation.2
3. Memory Loss
Studies have established a close link between sleep deprivation and memory loss. The brain requires sufficient rest in order to function well. When sleep is deprived, the brain’s performance also reduces, and over time results in memory loss. Researchers have determined that brain events called “sharp wave ripples” are responsible for consolidating memory.
The ripples also transfer learned information from the hippocampus to the neocortex of the brain, where long-term memory is stored. Another study has found that total sleep deprivation not only impairs attention and working memory, but it also affects other functions, such as long-term memory and decision-making.3
Various studies have shown an increased rate of self-reported accidents, particularly following extended shifts of more than 24 hours.4 People who work for long hours without proper sleep are prone to more accidents. Drowsiness reduces reaction time as much as drunk driving.
Research has shown that sleep loss and poor-quality sleep may cause accidents and injuries on the job. One major consequence of sleep deprivation and sleepiness is drowsy driving. In the 2011 Sleep in America Poll, 66% of young adults reported drowsy driving.5
Sufficient sleep is crucial for a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index). People who are on a diet plan to lose weight must make it a point to get enough sleep, at least 7-8 hours each night. Lack of sleep is closely related to an increase in hunger and appetite, and possibly to obesity.
One study reported that people who sleep less than six hours a day were almost 30 percent more likely to become obese than those who slept 7-9 hours. Multiple epidemiological studies have linked short-sleep duration and poor-sleep quality to obesity risk.6
6. Affects Intelligence
Sleep performs an important role in thinking and learning. Insufficient sleep affects cognitive processes in many ways. The results of sleep deprivation and daytime sleepiness are especially problematic to college students. It can result in lower grade point averages, increased risk of academic failure, compromised learning, and impaired mood.7 Lack of sleep also impairs attention, reasoning, concentration, alertness, and problem-solving, making it difficult to learn efficiently.8
7. Lowers Libido
Sleep has a profound effect on the sexual drive of both men and women. Sleep helps the body and the mind to recover from stress. Lack of sleep can negatively impact your sex drive and affect your performance in the bedroom. Experts suggest that sleep-deprived men and women report lower libidos and less interest in sex. Lack of energy, sleepiness, and increased tension are all the results of insufficient sleep, which are responsible for a lower libido.
Depression and sleep are interrelated. A cardinal feature of depression is disturbed sleep. Depression prevents you from getting quality sleep and lack of sleep can lead to depression. It’s a vicious circle. Studies reveal that improving sleep may improve depressive symptoms. A study on college girls showed that sleep debt of 2 hours per night and/or a bedtime after 2 a.m. was associated with greater depressive symptoms.9
Decades of research has shown that sleep loss and sleep disorders have profound and widespread effects on human health. Sleep loss is also associated with increased age-specific mortality. Sleeping five hours or less increased mortality risk, from all causes, by roughly 15 percent.
Other epidemiological studies suggest that sleep-loss-related mortality is largely from acute heart attacks.10 Even many road accidents resulting in death have been attributed to lack of sleep. In particular, lack of sleep doubled the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
|↑1||Chen, Ying, and John Lyga. “Brain-skin connection: stress, inflammation and skin aging.” Inflammation & Allergy-Drug Targets (Formerly Current Drug Targets-Inflammation & Allergy) 13, no. 3 (2014): 177-190.|
|↑2||Mullington, Janet M., Monika Haack, Maria Toth, Jorge M. Serrador, and Hans K. Meier-Ewert. “Cardiovascular, inflammatory, and metabolic consequences of sleep deprivation.” Progress in cardiovascular diseases 51, no. 4 (2009): 294-302.|
|↑3, ↑8||Alhola, Paula, and Päivi Polo-Kantola. “Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance.” Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment 3, no. 5 (2007): 553.|
|↑4||Drake, Christopher, Timothy Roehrs, Naomi Breslau, Eric Johnson, Catherine Jefferson, Holly Scofield, and Thomas Roth. “The 10-year risk of verifed motor vehicle crashes in relation to physiologic sleepiness.” Sleep 33, no. 6 (2010): 745-752.|
|↑5, ↑7, ↑9||Hershner, Shelley D., and Ronald D. Chervin. “Causes and consequences of sleepiness among college students.” Nature and science of sleep 6 (2014): 73.|
|↑6||Beccuti, Guglielmo, and Silvana Pannain. “Sleep and obesity.” Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care 14, no. 4 (2011): 402.|
|↑10||Colton, H. R., and B. M. Altevogt. “Extent and health consequences of chronic sleep loss and sleep disorders.” Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Retrieved from: books. nap. edu/openbook/0309101115. gifmid/55. gif (2006).|