10 Dangerous Side Effects of Lack of Sleep

A lack of sleep can cause a number of dangerous side effects. Everything from people's memory to their looks, their weight and their overall health can be impacted by a lack of sleep, especially if the habit becomes chronic.

Many effects of a lack of sleep, such as feeling grumpy and not working at your best are very well known. However, there are some more serious side effects may not be as well known. Everything from people's memory to their looks, their weight and their overall health can be impacted by a lack of sleep, especially if the habit becomes chronic.

1. Not Getting Enough Sleep Can Cause Death

British research studies have shown that people who have irregular sleep patterns or schedules that do not allow for adequate rest on a regular basis have a higher mortality rate than those who get enough sleep on a regular basis. Most notably, patients who suffer from a lack of sleep appear to have a significantly higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

2. Fatigue Leads to Accidents

Serious accidents are very often linked to a poor sleep schedules and fatigue. Studies have claimed that driving while suffering from sleep loss is just as dangerous as driving drunk because your reaction times are equally impacted by both activities. People under 25 years old are especially affected by this phenomenon.

In addition to accidents on the road, a lack of sleep can also lead to a higher risk of injuries or accidents on the job or in the home. Not sleeping enough has been linked to a significant increase in repeated work accidents as well as an increased number of sick days.

3. Sleep Deprivation Leads to Health Issues

The risk of developing several chronic diseases increases when people get less sleep. It is estimated that 90 percent of people who suffer from insomnia also suffer from another chronic health condition which can be life threatening. Some of the most common chronic diseases which increase with a lack of sleep include:

  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Heart failure
  • Heart attack
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure

4. A Lack of Sleep Causes Depression

A lack of sleep significantly increases symptoms of depression. In a 2005 poll, people who suffered from anxiety or depression were asked to calculate their sleeping habits. It was revealed that that most of these patients sleep less than six hours on the average night. Insomnia is frequently linked to depression, with one frequently leading to the other. Symptoms of depression can also impact a patient's ability to fall asleep.

5. Sleep Hurts the Learning Process

Sleep is essential to the cognitive processes associated with learning. A lack of sleep brings down alertness and attention span that makes it easier to take in information. A lack of attention also limits a person's ability to reason and solve problem effectively, which means that people who are fatigued cannot learn at an effective level.

Skills that have been learned during the day are converted into memories during the night. Even if you manage to learn a significant amount during the day, you will not be able to remember it if you do not get enough sleep to allow your body to store this knowledge in the long-term area in the brain.

6. Not Sleeping Enough Impairs Judgment

When you do not get enough sleep it can limit your ability to accurately interpret events, which can make it difficult to correctly react to situations you are experiencing or make smart, efficient decision making. Most notably, those who have not gotten enough sleep tend to make poor judgments regarding the amount of sleep they need. They believe that they are not suffering from any ill effects from the poor sleep schedule they are keeping, which leads to the problem snowballing.

7. Skin is Damaged by Lack of Sleep

Just one night of missed sleep can lead to puffy eyes and sallow skin. If a person continues to develop a constant schedule that promotes sleep loss, this damage can become permanent. Dark circles under the eyes, sallow skin and fine lines across the face can become permanent.

The elasticity of the skin can also become damaged over time when a person does not get enough sleep. Chronic fatigue leads to excessive stress which causes the body to produce more of the hormone cortisol, which breaks down the protein in the skin that keeps it elastic and smooth.

8. Gaining Weight is More likely when You Lack Sleep

A regular sleep schedule helps your body maintain a regular appetite and hunger schedule. This is because shortening your sleep schedule increases your production of the hormone ghrelin which stimulates hunger and decreases your production of leptin which suppresses appetite. Throwing off your appetite increases the likelihood that you will overeat, which can lead to obesity over time. Studies have shown that people who sleep less than seven hours a day are 30 percent more likely to be obese than those who get nine hours of sleep or more.

9. Lack of Sleep Hurts Your Sex Drive

Men and women who suffered from a lack of quality sleep were studied and it was determined that most of them had lower libidos and less of an interest in having sex. A lack of sleep leads to a person having less energy and more tension in the body which inhibits the desire for sexual intercourse. Men who suffer from sleep apnea also tend to have lower testosterone levels which can lower libido.

10. Fatigue Causes Forgetfulness

Brain events known as "sharp wave ripples" are used to help consolidate memory, which makes things you have learned easy to access and recall. These brain events also transfer short term information into the neocortex and hippocampus where they can become long-term knowledge. This transference occurs at the strongest rate during the deepest part of the sleep cycle, so cutting out a lot of deep sleep can hurt long term memory, which can lead to excessive forgetfulness.


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