Sleep deprivation is a common condition that all of us have experienced at one time or another. It can either be a short or long-term problem, but either way, it can have an impact on your health. If you’ve ever spent the night lying awake in frustration, you’ll remember how you felt the next day. The average adult should get somewhere between 8-9 hours of sleep each night. If you think you’re one of the special few that can function fully on 5-6 hours of sleep, chances are you are convincing yourself, as these individuals are remarkably rare. Here are just some of the ways sleep deprivation is destroying your health.
Weakens your immune system
Sleep is when our body heals and replenishes itself, and your immune system is particularly active during this time. Therefore, losing sleep drastically reduces your chances of fighting off even the most minor infections. Things like the cold and flu will be much more of a problem if you’re sleep deprived as your immune system is compromised.
It affects your mood
There’s no denying that a lack of sleep makes you cranky the next day. Much like how our body heals itself during sleep, so does our mind. If you lose sleep then you’ll inevitably be in a bad mood the next day because you haven’t had a chance to process and reset. Sleep deprivation has been linked to increased chances of depression and anxiety, among other mental illnesses.
It lowers sex drive and fertility
Getting enough sleep is linked to higher levels of fertility and a better sex drive in both men and women. In men, sleep deprivation is believed to be linked to lower testosterone levels, which reduces libido and fertility. For women, a lack of sleep reduces the secretion of necessary hormones involved in reproduction and conceiving.
It increases the risk of heart disease
It’s believed that sleep deprivation is linked to heart disease in a number of ways. First is the fact that our body works less during sleep, so our heart has a chance for a break. Second is that it’s linked to higher blood pressure, and this causes heart disease. Also, sleep deprivation appears to be linked with an increased presence of chemicals that cause inflammation in the heart. Finally, sleep deprivation can increase your levels of stress, which can indirectly lead to heart disease.
It causes memory problems
Sleep is the time in which our brains process all the information we’ve taken in throughout the day, while also cycling through older memories to see if they’re still useful. Some believe this is why we dream. Scientifically speaking, your brain forms new pathways and repairs existing ones to keep itself going during these valuable sleeping hours. Therefore, a lack of sleep means this can’t occur, which leads to an inability to properly store information.
You’re more likely to have an accident
Along with all the things that happen during sleep, it’s also worth thinking about the day after. Sleep deprivation makes you feel drowsy and clumsy, which will increase your risk of accident and injury. In fact, even going 24 hours without sleep can feel just as inebriating as a couple of alcoholic beverages.
Getting enough sleep is incredibly important. It can affect your entire outlook on life and interactions with other people. If you feel you are suffering from a sleeping disorder like insomnia or sleep apnea, contact your doctor as soon as possible.