Missing a good night’s sleep once in a while can be an inconvenience. It can leave you feeling tired and lethargic the next day, among other things. However, not getting sleep for an extended period is more dangerous. There are many implications of sleep deprivation on your health.
It is simply a condition where you don’t get enough sleep. For some, it happens on occasion. For others, it can be a chronic condition. Insufficient sleep can be dangerous. It doesn’t take very long for a lack of sleep to wreak havoc on your mind and body.
There are warning signs to look out for when it comes to not getting enough sleep. First, let’s touch on those. If you experience any of the symptoms of sleep deprivation, it’s important to do whatever you can to resolve the situation.
In some cases, medical diagnosis and treatment may be necessary. If you experience any of the symptoms of a lack of sleep and don’t get help, you’re putting your health and well-being at risk.
What Are the Consequences of Sleep Deprivation on Health?
Table of Contents:
It can come in different forms. Some people just stay up too late and don’t get a sufficient amount of rest before waking. Others struggle with sleep conditions like insomnia. That makes it nearly impossible to sleep through the night.
If irregular or disrupted sleep becomes a pattern, you may notice some symptoms arise in your daily life. They may start out small, but it’s important to recognize them. The sooner you can link possible symptoms with a lack of sleep, the sooner you can find treatment. Some signs that you’re sleep deprived include:
- Bouts of hunger, especially for sugary and fatty foods.
- Weight gain due to additional eating
- Impulsiveness with decisions
- Poor memory
- Trouble making decisions*
- Feeling extra emotional
- You get sick easily
- Trouble seeing
*According to the Sleep journal, quick decision-making accuracy goes down more than 2% when sleep deprived.
There are plenty of additional symptoms associated with the condition. However, these are some of the most common. If you haven’t been sleeping, and have some of these problems, a change in your sleeping habits is necessary. If you don’t make modifications, sleep deprivation could begin to affect your overall health.
Health Conditions Linked to Sleep Deprivation
In just a short amount of time, sleep loss can cause damage to your body. If it continues, you may suffer long-term health consequences. Sleep should be a priority as much as possible. It is essential for good health.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, you are instantly putting yourself at risk. According to the Harvard Medical School, sleeping less than five hours each night can increase your risk of death from any cause by 15%.
A lack of sleep affects your whole body and your brain. Breaking down the potential health conditions is an easy way to look at what you could be hurting by not getting enough sleep.
How Does Not Sleeping Affect the Brain?
You’ll see initial signs of how sleep deprivation affects the brain if you experience some of the symptoms listed above. Even short-term sleep loss can slow down your mind quite a bit. Not only could you have trouble making decisions, but trouble processing information in general. You may become forgetful, and may not even be able to speak or put together words as clearly.
Response time slows down considerably when you haven’t gotten enough sleep. This goes far beyond things like decision making in the office each day. It can affect your physical response time, too. That can be extremely dangerous when you’re driving, exercising, doing chores, etc. You’ll also find that your threshold for pain may be reduced. That can make everyday physical tasks seem overwhelming.
Sleep loss also causes irritability, quick shifts in mood, and even anxiety. Your mood will often be unstable after getting insufficient sleep.
How Does Sleeplessness Affect the Body?
The most significant negative that sleep deprivation has on your body is connected to your immune system. You may notice that it’s easier for you to catch a cold if you haven’t been sleeping. However, that’s just the beginning.
Sleep loss adds up – it’s cumulative. If it keeps adding up, after a few days, you have a high chance of getting sick. Your immune system weakens, and your body has a hard time fighting off infections.
Even if you don’t get sick right away, you’re opening your body up to risks. Anything from catching something from a co-worker, to getting an open paper cut can become a bigger deal. When your body can’t ward off viruses easily, they can become dangerous.
Additionally, it can affect insulin levels. Just one night without sleeping can do as much damage as six months of a high-fat diet when it comes to insulin sensitivity. That can lead to health conditions like diabetes. Sleep deprivation has been linked to several severe health conditions, including:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- High blood pressure
Types of Treatment for Sleep Deprivation
The American Sleep Association suggests that we all get at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Any less than that and you may start feeling the adverse effects of insufficient sleep. Even adding an extra hour to your current sleep schedule will likely make you feel better every day.
Take a look at your symptoms. If you find it hard to stay alert during the day, it’s an initial indicator of sleep deprivation. It is also an indicator that shouldn’t be ignored. Don’t let your symptoms build up because of a lack of sleep. The longer you go without sufficient sleep, the higher your health risks become.
If you have a sleep disorder, like insomnia, medical treatment may be necessary. The negative effects of sleep deprivation on health will keep adding up without treatment. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, consider speaking with your doctor. Sleep disorders can often be helped with lifestyle changes or medication.