We’ve all experienced the most noticeable effects of sleep deprivation, like feeling groggy, tired, and even irritable. But not getting enough sleep can lead to many other health and cognitive issues in the long run. So, are you getting enough sleep? The average adult needs between seven to nine hours of sleep each day. Getting six hours or less of sleep every day is considered to be too little sleep.
Some people suffer from sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and insomnia, which can limit the amount and quality of their sleep. It is strongly recommended that these people visit a sleep specialist or attend a sleep center to get professional help.
The toll that a lack of sleep takes on your body is very real and can lead to several health and cognitive issues such as:
Preventing children and adolescents from developing normally
For children and adolescents, sleep is vital to their physical growth and development because hormones that promote growth, build muscle mass, and make repairs to cells and tissues are all released during sleep.
Leading to memory loss
Sleep deprivation can negatively impact your memory because sleep plays a key role in consolidating memories in your mind. Lack of sleep can lead to you not being able to remember what you learned and experienced during the day.
Interfering with cognitive abilities
Lack of sleep can make it hard for you to concentrate, learn new things, and make decisions. It also interferes with your creativity.
Making it easier to get sick and harder to recover
While you sleep, your body typically produces infection-fighting antibodies and cells. Sleep deprivation makes it harder for your body to fight off invaders because it hasn’t gotten a chance to produce enough defenses, which also makes it harder to recover from illnesses.
Sleep deprivation does three things that lead to weight gain: it increases the levels of ghrelin, which is a biochemical that makes you feel hungry. It also increases the production of a stress hormone called cortisol, which can lead to binge eating. Lastly, it lowers the levels of the hormone leptin, which is in charge of telling the brain when you’ve had enough to eat.
Lack of sleep also prompts your body to release higher levels of insulin after eating, which promotes fat storage and can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Damaging your heart
Not sleeping enough can lead to a higher risk of chronic heart problems, such as high blood pressure and heart disease, because sleep aids in the healing and repairing of your blood vessels and heart.
Lowering your libido
Sleep specialists have found that sleep deprived people report lower libidos and less interest in sex. Furthermore, many men with untreated sleep apnea have low testosterone levels.
Untreated sleep apnea can have other catastrophic effects on a person’s health and should be diagnosed and treated by a sleep apnea doctor.
Damaging your skin
When you are sleep deprived, your body releases higher levels of cortisol, which in excess amounts can break down your skin’s collagen and reduce your skin’s smoothness and elasticity. This can lead to your skin looking lackluster, with fine lines and dark circles.
Increasing risk of cancer
Recent studies have shown that cancerous polyps are more common in people who sleep less.
Affecting your ability to judge the effects of sleep deprivation
Sleep deprivation can impair your judgment and hurt your ability to realize the true effects a lack of sleep is having on your health. In other words, lack of sleep can stop you from realizing that lack of sleep is hurting you.
Sleep deprivation can be dangerous and should be taken seriously. The best way to prevent its effects is to simply sleep more and improve the quality of your sleep. If you are suffering from sleep deprivation and its effects, but don’t know how to get more and better sleep, visit a sleep specialist or a sleep center for professional help.
Dr. Pasha is a certified sleep specialist and sleep apnea doctor with two offices in the Houston area. Make an appointment today!