Despite all decades of research, we still aren’t sure why our bodies need sleep.
However, if we don’t get the recommended 8 hours of sleep each night, we do know that the impact on our health can be devastating.
Let’s take a deeper look at the top 8 effects of long-term sleep deprivation.
Getting less than 5 to 6 hours of sleep per night has been linked to an elevated instance of hypertension. Because sleep helps our bodies regulate hormones that cause stress, a lack of rest can amplify the effects of stress on the body. Long-term sleep deprivation has been associated with increased blood pressure, higher heart rate and inflammation. All of this puts unnecessary strain on your heart.
2. Weight gain & 0besity
The effects of continual sleep problems include rapid weight gain. A lack of sleep is related to higher amounts of cortisol, a stress hormone; the resulting anxiety, stress and frustration often contribute to emotional eating and poor nutritional habits. Another hormone, called ghrelin, is produced in the stomach and has been associated with sleep long-term deprivation; an excess of ghrelin can actually make people feel more hungry.
Getting as much as 5 hours of sleep at night is still not enough. Research has shown that sleep deprivation may disrupt the body’s method for processing glucose which cells use for fuel and the amount of insulin that the body produces. This is why it’s considered a significant risk factor in the development of type 2 diabetes.
4. Depression & anxiety
Most people feel irritable if they haven’t had a good night’s sleep, but long-term sleep deprivation has been linked clinical depression and a more general loss of motivation. Anxiety and panic attacks can also be a common reaction for people struggling with chronic sleep deficiency; they’ve have shown to have a lower tolerance for even mild daily stressors.
5. Faulty brain function
When the brain is not able to rest enough over a longer period of time, mental faculties can decrease drastically. We know that adequate sleep is necessary for people to feel sharp, concentrate and learn, but it also impacts our problem-solving skills and the ability to regulate our emotions and make decisions.
6. Memory loss
Many scientists believe that sleep is important for giving the brain time to organize itself and, specifically, to commit information from the short-term memory to the long-term memory. Adequate sleep is crucial for memory recall. Studies show improvement in memory loss after just one night of restful sleep.
7. Immune system deficiency
Like the rest of our body, the immune system performs best when we get adequate sleep. A prolonged lack of sleep causes a similar reaction to high levels of stress; it can decrease your antibody response and make you more vulnerable when you’re exposed to viruses, even the common cold and flu.
8. Decreased fertility
Not only can sleep disorders lower libido, they can have a devastating impact on anyone trying to conceive – both men and women. The same part of the brain that controls circadian rhythms also regulates the release of reproductive hormones. Regularly getting fewer than 7 hours of sleep can lead to lower levels of testosterone and the hormones which trigger ovulation, making conception even more difficult.