The loss of sleep is a common problem in modern society affecting many individuals at some point in their lives. Sleep is a necessity that is critical to life as breath. It affects every aspect of your life including your productivity and health.
If you’ve ever spent a night tossing and turning, you already know how you’ll feel the next day; tired and worn out. Missing out on the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep nightly does more than make you feel tired and drowsy.
Most people don’t get enough sleep. We are a society where people stay up all night to study, work, or have fun. However, going without adequate sleep carries with it both short and long-term consequences.
While most of us assume that sleep hours cut into our productive hours, we’re actually more productive when we get sufficient sleep. So, while it may seem counterintuitive, your production will increase because you’ll have more energy and be able to think more clearly while working more efficiently.
How it occurs
Sleep deprivation occurs when an individual gets less sleep than they need to feel awake and alert. People vary in how little sleep is needed to be considered sleep-deprived.
Some people such as older adults seem to be more resistant to the effects of sleep deprivation while others, especially children and young adults, are more vulnerable.
Occasional sleep interruptions are generally no more than a nuisance. Ongoing lack of sleep can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness, emotional difficulties, poor job performance, and obesity.
There is no questioning the importance of restorative sleep. A certain amount of attention is necessary to both manage and prevent sleep deprivation.
To sleep comfortably with no interruptions, you want to buy the best mattress that guarantees you quality sleep.
What are the symptoms of sleep deprivation?
Sleep deprivation could occur from regularly not allowing enough time for sleep or due to a physical or mental problem. It prevents restful sleep producing noticeable symptoms.
The main symptoms of ongoing sleep loss are excessive daytime sleepiness. Other known symptoms include:
- Increased appetite and carbohydrate cravings
- Reduced sex drive
- Difficulty learning new concepts
- Lack of motivation
- Depressed mood
What short-term problems are associated with sleep deprivation?
Short-term problems include:
- Greater likelihood for car accidents: Drowsy driving accounts for thousands of crashes, injuries and fatalities each year.
- Relationship stress: It can make you feel moody, making you more likely to have conflicts with others.
- Quality of life: You may become less likely to participate in normal daily activities or to exercise.
- Lack of alertness: Even missing as little as 2 hours can have an impact.
- Impaired memory: Lack of sleep can affect your ability to think and to remember and process information.
If you don’t get the recommended 8 hours of sleep each night, know that the impact on your health can be devastating.
Let’s take a deeper look at some of the top 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.
- Depression & Anxiety
Most people feel irritable if they haven’t had a good night’s sleep. Long-term sleep deprivation has been linked to clinical depression and a more general loss of motivation.
Patients with depression often have irregular sleep schedules. Sleep cycles and mood regulation are both regulated by the hormone melatonin.
In fact, lower levels of melatonin are often found in people suffering from depression and those affected by insomnia.
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.
Like depression, sometimes it can be difficult to understand what came first: anxiety or sleep disorder.
- Immune System Deficiency
Like the rest of your body, the immune system performs best when you 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.
Getting as much as 5 hours of sleep at night is still not enough. Research has shown that sleep restriction 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.
- Weight Gain & Obesity
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 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 hungrier.
Over time, sleep deprivation negatively impacts the body’s metabolism and eating habits. Tiredness often leads to unhealthy cravings accompanied by a decrease in stamina and physical activity.
Research has shown that people who feel unrested are more likely to choose foods that are rich in carbohydrates and sugar.
- Interruption of hormonal production
Hormone production is dependent on your sleep. For testosterone production, you need at least three hours of uninterrupted sleep. Waking up throughout the night could affect hormone production.
This interruption can also affect growth hormone production, especially in children and adolescents. These hormones help build muscle mass and repair cells and tissues.
The pituitary gland releases growth hormones continuously but sleep and exercise also help induce the release of this hormone.