Whether you’re staying up late to answer work emails, do your kid’s laundry or binge-watch your favorite TV show on Netflix, you are missing out on the sleep that you need. The long-term effects of a lack of sleep are endless and by not getting enough zzz’s, you are putting your mental and physical health at risk. Here are some of the negative health consequences that come with not getting enough shut-eye.
A lack of sleep slows cognitive processes
Sleep plays a crucial role in the way you think and how you process new information. A lack of sleep reduces alertness, increases distractibility, slows reaction time and also impairs concentration, reasoning, creativity and problem-solving. A lack of sleep can affect your short-term and long-term memory and your interpretation of events. Those that don’t get enough zzz’s are especially prone to forgetfulness and poor judgment.
When you don’t get enough hours during the night to rest and recharge, your mood is negatively impacted. Depression, irritability, anxiety, a lack of motivation and an increase in stress are common in a person with little sleep. Sleepless nights can make you moody, emotional and high-tempered.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases more cortisol, a hormone which breaks down skin collagen. This excess in cortisol negatively impacts skin elasticity and smoothness. If you’ve had a few rough nights of sleep due to a sick baby or a big project at work, you might notice dull skin and puffy eyes, but a chronic lack of sleep can speed up the skin aging process and lead to fine lines and prominent dark circles under your eyes.
An inadequate amount of sleep each night increases hunger and appetite and puts you at a higher risk for obesity. A lack of sleep also stimulates cravings for sweet, salty, starchy, and fatty foods. Your body produces higher levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and lower levels of leptin, the appetite control hormone. The chemicals that signal to your brain that you are full are off-balance, which may cause you to overeat, leading to weight gain.
Sleep deprivation can lead to serious health problems
Regularly getting an insufficient amount of sleep can put you at risk for heart disease, heart attacks, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. A lack of sleep weakens your immune system which makes you much more prone to becoming sick and when you do catch an illness, it takes you longer to recover.
Adults are recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. There are always going to be nights where you don’t hit the recommended hours of sleep, but making this a habit is detrimental to your health. The next time you think about staying up late for the third night in a row to work on a project, think about how you are impacting your health.
No, 4 hours of sleep is not enough for most people. Research has shown that our bodies do not adapt to chronically restricted sleep, so 4 hours would likely leave us feeling tired and not mentally alert.
Severe sleep deprivation can cause more extreme symptoms such as irritability, difficulty with communication, delusions, and hallucinations. It can also lead to an impaired immune system, which can make it difficult to fight off infections and diseases.