If you’ve ever spent a night tossing and turning, you already know how you’ll feel the next day — tired, cranky, and out of sorts. But missing out on the recommended 7 to 9 hours of shut-eye nightly does more than make you feel groggy and grumpy.
The long term effects of sleep deprivation are real. It drains your mental abilities and puts your physical health at real risk. Science has linked poor slumber with all kinds of health problems, from weight gain to a weakened immune system.
Reduced energy expenditures
When you don’t get enough sleep, it directly affects your metabolism. Because you also experience fatigue, your energy expenditure goes down.
People with trouble sleeping are less likely to be physically active. Hence, this leads to the build up of fat and excess calories.
If you add that to the food cravings caused by poor sleep, it’s very likely that the sufferer will become overweight.
Staying up for 19 hours on end three days in a row can damage or kill brain cells, per a new animal study that researchers believe may hold for men too. Scarier still, similar experiments show that without slumber, the brain can’t clear out the plaque-forming proteins that cause Alzheimer’s and dementia.
A weakened immune system
In addition, the physical exhaustion caused by lack of sleep can directly compromise the health of your immune system. It can decrease its function and increase your risk of contracting respiratory diseases and infections.
Low antibody production makes it easier for viruses, bacteria, and fungi to attack. Thus, so it’s not unusual to get sick after a few days with inadequate sleep.
Stress and irritability
The impact of this problem on your emotional health is almost immediate. Thus, it’s not uncommon for a person to become stressed and irritable after a poor night’s sleep.
Lack of rest significantly decreases your production of serotonin and endorphins. These are two hormones that are known to generate feelings of well-being.
Instead, you experience an increase in the production of adrenaline and cortisol, substances that trigger negative emotional responses.
High blood pressure
First of all, a lack of sleep, or insomnia, can have repercussions on your cardiovascular health.
This problem could lead to an increase in your blood pressure. This forces your heart to work harder than it should.
People who sleep less than seven hours a day usually have a systolic blood pressure of up to 123. Ideally, it should be below 120.
Lack of Sleep Kills Sex Drive
Sleep specialists say that sleep-deprived men and women report lower libidos and less interest in sex. Depleted energy, sleepiness, and increased tension may be largely to blame.
Hormone production is dependent on your sleep. For testosterone production, you need at least three hours of uninterrupted sleep, which is about the time of your first REM episode. 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.
Lack of Sleep Ages Your Skin
Most people have experienced sallow skin and puffy eyes after a few nights of missed sleep. But it turns out that chronic sleep loss can lead to lackluster skin, fine lines, and dark circles under the eyes.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol. In excess amounts, cortisol can break down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic.
Sleep loss also causes the body to release too little human growth hormone. When we’re young, human growth hormone promotes growth. As we age, it helps increase muscle mass, thicken skin, and strengthen bones.
Along with eating too much and not exercising, sleep deprivation is another risk factor for becoming overweight and obesity. Sleep affects the levels of two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, which control feelings of hunger and fullness.
Leptin tells your brain that you’ve had enough to eat. Without enough sleep, your brain reduces leptin and raises ghrelin, which is an appetite stimulant. The flux of these hormones could explain nighttime snacking or why someone may overeat later in night. A lack of sleep can also contribute to weight gain by making you feel too tired to exercise.
Sleep deprivation also prompts your body to release higher levels of insulin after you eat. Insulin controls your blood sugar level. Higher insulin levels promote fat storage and increase your risk for type 2 diabetes.