So many of us don’t get a decent night’s sleep often enough. But, have you ever thought about the consequences of this? You might simply think that it leaves you a bit sluggish or grumpy the next day. However, the truth is, sleep deprivation can have a HUGE impact on your life, your health and your mental well-being.
The effect of sleep deprivation on your health
A lack of sleep increases your risks of a wide range of very serious health conditions. When you don’t get enough sleep you’re putting yourself at a greater risk of getting heart disease and heart failure, of suffering from a stroke, and of having high blood pressure and diabetes. Recent research has shown that 90% of people with insomnia also have other health problems.
Sleep deprivation could even cut your life short
Studies have shown that people who sleep well tend to live longer. That’s quite a sobering thought. You really don’t want to have a shorter life span just because you didn’t get enough good quality sleep!
You are more likely to have an accident if you are sleep deprived
Did you know that a lack of sleep can slow your response times down just as much as alcohol can? If you get behind the wheel when you haven’t slept properly, most of us wouldn’t really give it a second thought, but it’s just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. While most of us would never dream of drink driving, and would think anyone doing so was terribly irresponsible, we tend not to have the same thoughts about driving while sleep deprived.
Every years there are thousands of accidents, on the roads, in the home and at the workplace that are due to someone being sleep deprived and some of these end in the loss of life.
You’ll make bad decisions and work will be tougher
Lack of sleep seriously affects your ability to think properly. Your brain simply can’t function well when it isn’t fully rested. You’ll find yourself struggling to complete tasks that would usually be no problem for you. You’re also far more likely to make the wrong decisions. If you’re sleep deprived, it’s a good idea to put off any major decisions until your head is clearer and you’re better rested!
You’ll look older
Sleep deprivation fast forwards the ageing process. Your skin will be pale and you’ll look sickly. You’ll have more wrinkles, and dark circles will develop under your eyes. Your overall skin condition will deteriorate due to the break down of collagen. This occurs because when we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies release a stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is known to break down the collagen in the skin, leaving it less elastic, and less clear and smooth.
You’ll be weaker
When you sleep, growth hormones are released into the body. These hormones help to build muscle and also help to keep your bones strong. Without enough sleep, not enough of these hormones will enter your body and you could suffer from weak bones and a lack of muscle mass.
You could become depressed and stressed
A lack of sleep can have an awful impact on your state of mind. Studies have shown that people who have been given a diagnosis of either depression or anxiety are likely to sleep for less than six hours a night. It’s pretty clear that sleep deprivation has a huge impact on our mood. A further study indicated that people who suffer from insomnia are a massive five times more likely to suffer from depression than people who get plenty of sleep.
You may get forgetful
Not getting enough good quality sleep can have an adverse effect on your memory. You may simply put your bad memory down to age, or to you being naturally forgetful, but it may be simply because you don’t get enough sleep. This is annoying enough, but if you’re studying for exams, it could make the difference between passing and failing. If you’re a student, it’s vitally important to get plenty of sleep.
You are likely to gain weight
If we’re overweight we tend to think that all we need is some more exercise and to follow a healthier, calorie controlled diet. But, the truth is, there is a big link between sleep deprivation and obesity. If you struggle to lose weight, even when you feel as if you’re putting in lots of effort to do more and eat less, it could be simply a matter of getting more sleep. This seems a little strange. Why would a lack of sleep make you gain weight? Well it’s all to do with hormones. When we sleep, our bodies release a very important hormone called leptin. It is leptin that tells our bodies that we are full, and to stop eating. If we don’t have enough leptin in our system, we will still feel hungry, even when we have actually eaten enough. Additionally, when we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies release too much of the hormone ghrelin. This hormone stimulates hunger. Too much ghrelin and you’ll always feel hungry! These two situations together make it hard to resist snacking and over-eating. Additionally, if you’re awake during the night, you may be tempted to get up and raid the fridge, adding in those extra calories you simply wouldn’t have got if you’d spent the night sleeping soundly.