Sleep Deprivation: Its Effects on Your Health

Sleep Deprivation

Not getting enough sleep at night does more than make you feel groggy, cranky and unfocused in the morning. If you constantly toss and turn at night and wake up feeling fatigued, you may have a hindered ability to retain information and concentrate on your daily tasks. Lack of quality sleep is mentally draining, so it’s not uncommon for sleep-deprived people to have memory issues and mood changes as well.

Aside from the negative impact to your emotional state and mental abilities, there are a number of detrimental effects of sleep deprivation to your physical health. Adults who don’t get 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep at night on a regular basis are also more prone to a range of medical conditions, from high blood pressure to weight gain. Read on to know more about these effects so you can take steps to improve your sleep.

Slower muscle recovery

The body heals damaged cells and tissues when you sleep by releasing hormones that promote tissue growth. This is why getting enough sleep is important for alleviating back pain, muscle recovery and repair of damaged tissues. Hormone production occurs during uninterrupted sleep, so if you constantly toss and turn, your body won’t be able to produce what it needs to repair itself.

Cardiovascular disease and hypertension

A short sleep duration of 6 to 7 hours every night has been associated with an increased risk of coronary artery calcification, which is a predictor of heart attack and even death due to cardiovascular disease. Loss of sleep due to obstructive sleep apnea has also been linked to a greater risk of irregular heartbeat, coronary heart disease, stroke and hypertension.

Diabetes

People who sleep fewer than 5 hours a night have a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Insufficient sleep influences the way our body processes glucose, which cells utilize for fuel. Studies have found that sleep deprivation affects the body’s ability to regulate and process glucose. A reduced ability to break down glucose thus increases diabetes risk.

Weight gain

Studies have found that adults who get less than 6 hours of quality shuteye every night are more prone to gain excess body weight. Sleep-deprived people are more likely to have a body mass index that is higher than average, making sleep a potential risk factor for obesity. How does this happen?

Sleep has an impact on the levels of leptin and ghrelin, which are the hormones that control feelings of hunger and fullness. Leptin informs your brain that you’re full, while ghrelin increases your appetite. If you lack sleep, your brain cuts back on leptin and increases ghrelin, making you want to eat more and grab some midnight munchies. And because you feel tired easily, you may not be motivated or feel energetic enough to exercise, making the problem worse.

Reduced immune function

During sleep, the immune system produces substances that fight infection caused by viruses and bacteria.

Therefore, lack of quality sleep may decrease your immune system’s ability to resist infection. This means that if you are sleep deprived, you are three times more likely to come down with the common cold. With a weakened immune system, it will also take longer for you to recover from illness.

In line with those negative effects to the body’s functions and systems, studies have also suggested that sleep deprivation may increase a person’s life expectancy by as much as 15 percent. If you are having trouble sleeping, you should consult a sleep specialist who can help you identify the reasons behind your lack of sleep and what you can do about it.

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