9 Harmful Effects of Not Getting Enough Sleep That You Need to Know
Is a lack of sleep linked to America’s biggest killer?
According to the American Heart Foundation, people who don’t get enough sleep are at a much higher risk of suffering a fatal stroke or heart attack, the country’s leading cause of death.
But, that’s not all.
Diabetes, obesity and even premature death are just a few of the other severe health problems that can stem from sleep deprivation. And with a massive one-third of Americans not getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours a night, there’s real reason for concern.
The good news is you're not alone- approximately 60 million Americans have trouble sleeping.
Although, this doesn’t have to be you.
There is one simple solution which we will share at the end of this article that can help improve the quality of your sleep.
But, do you know what to look out for? Find out if the harmful side effects of sleep deprivation are impacting you.
1. Slower Reaction Time
Sleep deprivation can impact your ability to make split-second decisions. Everyday activities, such as driving or using power tools can become potentially dangerous situations.
Imagine you’re driving on the highway after a long day of work. The car in front of you slams on their brakes. How quickly can you react?
Studies have shown that a lack of sleep is comparable to a 0.10% blood alcohol concentration, making an everyday drive when you’re drowsy potentially fatal.
2. Reduced Memory and Cognition
Have you ever felt so exhausted you struggle to process what’s happening around you? Or stepped off a long-haul flight and couldn’t recall you’re pin code?
A lack of sleep takes its toll on your memory and cognition, impacting your ability to process, retain and recall information.
While forgetting your pin code is annoying, when sleep deprivation creeps into your workplace, it becomes a real problem. Poor concentration and difficulty making decisions can severely impact your productivity at work.
3. Weakened Immune System
Your mom probably made you rest when you were under the weather. And rightly so, sleep aids recovery by allowing the immune system to do its work.
Our immune system produces a stronger fever during sleep to fight off infections. But, did you know that poor sleep over time makes us even more vulnerable to catching a common cold or flu as well?
During sleep, our body generates new immune cells designed to attack invading bacteria and viruses immediately. This is why people who get inadequate sleep receive poor protection from flu vaccinations.
4. Increased Risk of Heart Disease
Insufficient sleep has been associated with a variety of risk factors such as high blood pressure, chronic inflammation, and increased cholesterol.
Even healthy adults burning the midnight oil have experienced significant increases in blood pressure. A good night’s sleep is necessary for the repair and maintenance of your heart and blood vessels.
5. Leads to Weight Gain
Ever wonder whether you’re feeling tired or hungry? You’re right to feel confused. According to Harvard University, sleep deprivation results in lower levels of leptin, an important hormone that informs the brain when we’ve had enough to eat.
It also decreases the secretion of ghrelin, a hormone responsible for stimulating hunger. The result: increased appetite and a tendency to overeat.
Of course, there’s also the apparent lack of energy, which curtails any attempts to get to the gym and exercise.
6. Increased Risk of Type II Diabetes
Hormonal imbalances caused by sleep deprivation can lead to type II diabetes, an irreversible condition that requires daily injections to manage.
Research shows that sleep-deprived people have significantly higher blood sugar levels throughout the day. This indicates a reduced ability to utilize sugar for energy, which is a significant cause of the life-threatening condition.
7. Steals Years of Your Life
With so many health implications, it may come as no surprise to hear that less sleep can reduce your lifespan.
According to Harvard Medical School, less than five hours per night can increase the chance of early death by up to 15%.
8. Leads to Premature Wrinkles
No one ever felt a million dollars after a rough night’s sleep. But, did you know sleep deprivation can also cause your skin to age faster?
A recent clinical trial commissioned by Estée Lauder demonstrated that women with chronic sleep deprivation have accelerated signs of skin aging, including the appearance of uneven pigmentation, fine lines, and reduced skin elasticity.
The study also found that poor sleepers experience slower recovery from environmental impacts, such as sun exposure.
9. Diminishes Sex Drive
Sleep science reveals restless nights among both men and women can interfere with your sex drive. Depleted energy levels, drowsiness, and increased stress are the culprits.
A drop in testosterone levels has also been to blame for low libidos among sleep-deprived males.
The Effects of Sleep Deprivation Are Real
Sleep science is only beginning to touch the surface of how poor sleep affects all aspects of our life. Although all research so far suggests that if you want to make the most of your time, you need to prioritize sleep.
What Can You Do?
The simple answer—get more sleep.
However, it's not always that easy.
Busy lifestyles get in the way.
Work commitments and travel requirements can dictate when you sleep, while personal goals and socializing can keep you up late at night.
And to make matters worse, when your head finally hits the pillow, it’s difficult to instantly switch off.
While medication, sleeping pills, and natural remedies can help, the easiest solution for overcoming a restless night can simply be to block out all light.
When your brain senses complete darkness, it starts to wind down, inducing sleep. Unwanted light from televisions, street lamps, and the bright morning sun can keep you up, tossing and turning.
Luckily, there’s a simple solution. An effective and simple way to achieve total darkness is by using a sleeping mask.
Sleeping masks are designed to block out light helping you fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer.
Although, not all sleeping masks are created equal.
Light leakage, uncomfortable straps and too much pressure on your eyes can cause you to wake up feeling groggy and with a sore head. When it comes to choosing the right sleeping mask, quality matters.
Imagine a sleeping mask that can help you achieve 100% darkness for an entire eight hours?
A sleeping mask that fits perfectly to your face and promotes REM (rapid eye movement), helping you feel well-rested and more energetic in the morning?
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website or provided through our blog, e-mails, or programs is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment that can be provided by your healthcare professionals.