Everyone knows there are just not enough hours in the day to do all the things you’d like. Oftentimes, people sacrifice sleep to accomplish more during the day. This is a good short-term solution, but sleep deprivation has numerous unwanted effects. Here is a list of 10 side effects that come hand-in-hand with not enough sleep.
1. Slowed reaction time– Sleep deprivation can significantly lower your reaction time and make it dangerous for you to be driving. This can be even more dangerous than driving drunk. Studies show that most accidents are due to fatigue.
2. Reduced cognitive function– Having little or no sleep slows down your ability to problem-solve and learn. Not enough REM sleep means that your brain can’t move the information you’ve learned from your short-term memory into your long-term memory, and you will be forgetful.
3. Increased risk for chronic diseases – Sleep loss can put you at risk for heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes.
4. Reduced sex drive– Sleep deprived men and women report lower libidos. This is partially due to their lack of energy. Men with sleep apnea, who have trouble falling and staying asleep, secrete abnormally low amounts of testosterone during the night.
5. Depression– Insomnia is one of the first symptoms of depression. Stress and worries that keep a person up at night worsen their psychological state. Insomnia and depression feed each other, and treating one often helps with the other.
6. Premature aging– The excess cortisol produced by lack of sleep breaks down the collagen in your skin that keeps it smooth and elastic. Too little human growth hormone is released. This hormone is responsible for maintaining muscle mass, thick skin and strong bones.
7. Weight gain– Lack of sleep increases your appetite and cravings for high-fat and high-carb foods. This is due to the hormones leptin and ghrelin, which signal your body when it is hungry or satisfied.
8. Impaired judgment– People who get six or less hours of sleep a night actually do very poorly on tests of mental alertness and performance.
9. Misbalances hormones– Just a week of sleep deprivation can impair your glucose tolerance. Impaired glucose tolerance can lead to diabetes or heart disease.
10. Compromises the immune system– Your body needs sleep to restore important white blood cells (T helper and antigen presenting cells) that help your body recognize bugs early and form an immune memory for fighting off the same virus in the future.
In today’s busy world, it sometimes seems like sleep is overrated. There is much pressure to be as productive as possible. But, next time you think of burning the midnight oil, think twice! Remember that sleep is important for patching the wear and tear of the day and keeping you healthy. Try to always get plenty of sleep, at least eight hours per day.
Bennington, Vanessa. “How Sleep Deprivation Fries Your Hormones, Your Immune System, and Your Brain.” Breaking Muscle. N.p., 26 Aug. 2013. Web. 1 May 2014.
Peri, Camille. “Coping With Excessive Sleepiness.” WebMD. N.p., 2014. Web. 1 May 2014.
Ralitza Treneva is a recent DePaul graduate living in Chicago. She is trained in plant-based nutrition and has worked as a nutritional consultant. She is from Bulgaria.