Do you know that more than 60 percent of Americans suffer from sleep deprivation? If you are not getting 7 to 8 hours of recommended sleep, then you are deprived of sleep. Although, increasing caffeine consumption can delay your sleep, it certainly does not eliminate the need of your body to get a sound sleep for at least 8 hours at a stretch. Rather, sleep is as much necessary to your body as you need to eat and breathe.
Why is Sleep Necessary?
When you are asleep, your body repairs the physical and mental wear and tear you undergo during the daytime and prepares your body to face another day. Sleep is quintessential in the growing years as most of the growth hormones are released when you sleep. That is why; the need for sleep is much more during adolescence and childhood and you will find most of the kids enjoying a regular sleep of 9 to 10 hours.
The growth hormones released during sleep build the muscle mass and repairs tissues and cells.
The studies conducted by Harvard Medical School have revealed that sleeping less than five hours every night elevates the death risk from various causes by around 15%. Thus, effects of lack of sleep are dangerous and can lower the quality of life over the years.
1. Increases Risk of Accidents
Fatigue has been the most common problem behind vehicular accidents apart from causing several major catastrophes such as Three Mile Island’s partial nuclear meltdown, Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion or the American Airlines flight 1420 crash. And more often, fatigue is directly related to lack of sleep. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said that around 100,000 car crashes in the United States are caused because of sleep deprivation related fatigue. The study utilized driving simulators and found out that sleep deprivation can cause an impairment effect almost the level of being legally drunk.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute have said that sleep deprivation has been found to be a major cause behind tragic accidents of ships and airplanes.
2. Leaves the Brain Exhausted
Sleep is highly necessary for the proper functioning of the brain. When you are asleep, the brain gives rest to the busy neurons and promotes cell and tissue repair. In the absence of adequate sleep, your brain becomes tired and loses its ability to perform at top condition. Thus, it can affect your working ability and performance. It negatively affects both long term and short term memory and interferes with your concentration and grasping ability.
The most dangerous effects of lack of sleep include increased hallucinations risk, manic depression and other mental problems such as impulsive behavior, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, and depression.
Micro sleep is another side effect of sleep deprivation. It is the phase when you are asleep for only a couple of seconds or minutes without you realizing it. It can make you injury and accident-prone.
3. Leads to Obesity
Lack of sleep affects the quality of your life and ultimately messes with your metabolism causing weight gain. When you are sleep deprived, your choices of ideal foods are driven more by impulse and you are more likely to serve yourself larger portions and hanker for junk foods. All this happens, because sleep deprivation leads to complicated changes in hormone bumping up the production of hunger hormone ghrelin. It also limits the production of leptin, which imbalances your food intake.
4. Increases Risk of Heart Disease
Sleep deprivation increases blood pressure, levels of stress hormones and lowers glucose intolerance. In many people, it also is the cause behind irregular heartbeats. All these conditions ultimately lead to heart disease.
When Harvard University study tracked down the health records of 70,000 middle-aged women, they found that more than 900 women had coronary disease and 271 had died from it owing to sleep deprivation. Studies showed that these women slept for five hours or even less every night. Another study has concluded that lack of sleep affects the condition of the heart almost similar to smoking.
5. Lowers Immunity of the Body
During sleep, the immune system of the body produces infection-fighting cells and antibodies and protective cytokines. These are the weapons used to ward off the foreign pathogens like viruses and bacteria. When you do not get enough sleep, your body cannot develop these protective forces in required amount, which directly affects the immunity of your body.
The cytokines are also known to induce sound sleep. So, in the absence of cytokines and antibodies, you cannot sleep properly, suffer from lack of energy and also have a low defense against illnesses.
6. Cause Damage to Bones
A study conducted on rats in 2012 showed that long-term deprivation of sleep lead to osteoporosis. Researchers noted that the mineral density of bone and bone marrow reduced considerably in rodents who were deprived of sleep for around 72 hours.
7. Increases Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease
A healthy brain breaks down the beta-amyloid protein fragments and eliminates them. These proteins accumulate to form insoluble and hard plaques leading to Alzheimer’s disease. When you are deprived of sleep, the buildup of the beta amyloid protein fragments increases, thereby enhancing the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
8. Causes Depression
Until some time back sleeplessness was considered one of the symptoms of depression. However, the recent studies suggest that it is also the cause of depression. Studies also say that persistent insomnia can ultimately lead to depression, making it difficult for the people to get adequate sleep. Inability to sleep for 7 to 8 hours during night deprives you of the pleasures of life and also heightens anxiety levels.
9. Lowers Sex Drive
A sleep-deprived person is more likely to lose interest in lovemaking. Such a person feels fatigued, drowsy, tense and irritable. It also directly affects the testosterone production in men. The study, published in the Journal of American Medical Association says that men in an average age group of 24 hours when were made to sleep in the sleep laboratory for eight hours in the first three nights and for less than five hours on the other nights showed reduced testosterone levels.
10. Elevates Risk to Diabetes
Few small studies were carried out in 2012 to examine whether there is a link between sleep deprivation and insulin resistance. The study indicated that the health teenagers who slept the least showed highest resistance to insulin. According to the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases it means that body is incapable of using the insulin effectively.
These are some of the shocking effects of lack of sleep that can indeed affect the quality and longevity of your life.