Are you getting 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night? Even with the best intentions, it’s difficult to sleep enough. We all know that sleep is necessary and that we should prioritize it – but life happens, and we get thrown off schedule. Sometimes all you need to get back on track is a quick reminder of what happens when you’re sleep deprived.
For that, it’s important to distinguish between 2 different types of sleep deprivation:
1. Acute sleep deprivation: this happens when you pull an all-nighter or get only several hours of sleep.
2. Chronic sleep deprivation: this is when you don’t sleep enough for a longer period, let’s say 6 hours per night if you need 8.
Most of the problems and dangers come when you’re chronically sleep deprived. Healthline lists 11 dangers of sleep deprivation, which can be covered in 3 categories:
If you’re not getting enough sleep, then your body will not get enough time to restore and rejuvenate. Just like athletes need to recover after going to the gym, your body needs to recover from the stresses of the day.
Lack of sleep can cause the following health problems:
Increased risk of diabetes – people who do not sleep enough have a higher blood sugar level.
High blood pressure – people who do not sleep enough, have a higher chance of high blood pressure.
Heart disease – because of the higher blood pressure, it’s more likely that complications with the heart and vessels arise.
Weight gain – after a night of not sleeping enough, your brain does not respond as well to the chemicals that signal that you’ve eaten enough. As a result you overeat and can gain weight.
Mood changes and trouble thinking
Apart from physical reactions in your body, your mind will also stop functioning normally as well. If you’ve ever pulled an all-nighter in college, you probably know that your ability to focus decreases the longer you’ve been awake. But that’s not the worst consequence (as you can focus again easily after getting some rest). The real problem arises when you’re chronically sleep deprived.
Here are some things that happen in a sleep deprived brain:
Memory issues – memories are formed during sleep. Lack of sleep impacts both the formation of your long- and short-term memory.
Mood changes – not getting enough sleep makes people moody. And long-term sleep deprivation can actually cause anxiety or depression.
Trouble concentrating – sleep deprived people do less well on tests. This also means that it may be smarter to leave finishing that big project for the next morning, instead of working through the night.
Low sex drive – in men, not sleeping enough lowers their testosterone. This in turn lowers sex drive.
Every year, the amount of accidents surges on 1 specific day in March: the Monday after daylight savings time starts. Everybody gets 1 hour less sleep, and a study found this causes a surge in car accidents. No wonder governments are contemplating getting rid of this system all together.
Some other results can be:
Other accidents – if you must drive a car, or operate heavy machinery, you’re more likely to cause accidents when you’re drowsy from not sleeping enough.
Balance issues – this is more geared towards the elderly: not enough time in bed negatively impacts balance, which makes them more prone to falling or physical accidents.
People go all the way for the next fad diet or wonder pill just to feel a little better. Or spend tons of money on non-proven ways for better performance (either at work or sport), when nature’s own simple solution is freely available for everyone.
It can be difficult to take the necessary steps to get more sleep, but your body and mind will thank you for it.
At Spirohealth using our unique technique of ABC we see changes in sleep patterns frequently. We also investigate pillow height and bed quality to help you get that good night’s rest. Join us for a FREE class here.
This blog is courtesy of Jamy Russell, who started Sleep Investor to teach people simple, yet effective ways to improve sleep. Falling asleep doesn’t have to be as difficult as many people make it out to be, and often there are many easy wins that people overlook in their quest for better sleep.