Effects of Sleep Deprivation

You likely know how it feels to be sleep deprived: your brain feels fuzzy, little annoyances bother you more than they normally do, and you might even look or feel sick. Both your body and your brain suffer when you don’t get enough sleep. Did you know drowsy driving can slow reaction times down to a rate similar to drunk driving? Maybe you stayed up late studying for a test, but have you tried doing a simple mental math problem when you’re sleep deprived? Not so simple! In a world that’s constantly on the go, your body and mind need a chance to rest to keep up. Read on to learn about the common effects of sleep deprivation and what you can do to wake up refreshed, invigorated and ready to go.

Effects of sleep deprivation on the body

Weight gain: You feel hungry when you’re sleep deprived because your body increases the hormone that tells you that you’re hungry while decreasing the hormone that controls your appetite. Even worse, lack of sleep increases your cravings for high-fat foods. Over time, the impact this has on your body can be severe. Those who sleep less than six hours a night are more likely to become obese than those who sleep seven to nine hours a night. Increased blood pressure: Chronically being unable to get enough sleep can affect your body’s ability to regulate cortisol, the primary stress hormone. This increase in cortisol is thought to increase your blood pressure, which can lead to a host of other problems, like heart disease and stroke. Increased risk of heart disease: Because lack of sleep is linked to high blood pressure, your heart also suffers from sleep deprivation. Your risk of coronary heart disease and other heart-related diseases dramatically increases with chronic sleep deprivation. Increased risk of diabetes: When you don’t get enough sleep, your body has trouble regulating the glucose level in your bloodstream. Your risk for type 2 diabetes nearly triples with chronic, long-term sleep deprivation. Lowered immunity: According to a study done by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, you are three times more likely to contract a cold when you’re sleep deprived. You’re also more likely to contract more serious diseases, and your body will have a harder time fighting them off. Premature skin aging: While just one night of missed sleep can cause dark circles and sallow skin, chronic under-sleeping can make your skin age more quickly than it should. Excess amounts of cortisol can break down the collagen in your skin, so wrinkles and fine line appear more quickly. Lowered sex drive: Depleted energy can lead to lower libidos in both men and women. For men with sleep apnea, this effect can be compounded as they also have a higher risk of having low testosterone levels, which decreases interest in sex.

Effects of sleep deprivation on the mind

Greater risk of mood disorders: Irritability, anxiety and depression are all common effects of not getting enough sleep. When your brain doesn’t have a chance to fully rest and reboot, minor inconveniences can seem like major ones. You may notice that you cry more easily when you haven’t gotten enough sleep or that you snap at a loved one. That’s your brain telling you it hasn’t gotten the rest it needs. Forgetfulness: While you sleep, memories are moved from short-term storage in the hippocampus to long-term storage in the neocortex of the brain. When you don’t get enough deep REM sleep, this process can be disrupted, and those memories can be lost. Fuzzy thinking: When you don’t get enough sleep, cognitive processes, like attention, reasoning and problem-solving, are all affected. This leads to a decreased in performance of tasks you usually do well and can make learning new things extremely difficult. Poor judgment: With a loss of reasoning, you run the risk of making poor judgement calls. The worst effects of this often come in relation to sleep. People who haven’t been getting enough sleep may not be able to recognize the effects that sleep deprivation is having on them. Because of this, they may believe that they can continue functioning on just a few hours of sleep a night.

What you can do to avoid sleep deprivation

There’s no need to suffer the effects of sleep deprivation. The sleep experts at ZzzQuil are here to help. Consider using a sleep aid that’s right for you. ZzzQuil PURE Zzzs sleep aids are non-habit-forming and won’t cause next-day grogginess, so you can wake up rested, refreshed and ready to face the day.