Few things are as crucial for your health and well-being as sleep. However, many people don’t get enough of it. If you’re reading this article, the chances are that you’re one of them! You might be feeling tired all the time or struggling to stay awake during the day due to a lack of sleep at night. Sleep deprivation has numerous adverse effects on your body, too – here’s a list of 10 ways in which it affects your body:
- Suffer from chronic pain
The final side effect is that sleep deprivation can make you more prone to chronic pain. The research found that people who experience lower levels of REM sleep, which typically occurs during early morning hours and after a whole night’s rest, are significantly more likely to suffer from back or neck pain than those reporting higher rates of it.
- Less Productive
Another side effect is that sleep deprivation can make you less productive. Getting a good night’s rest has been shown to improve your focus, concentration, and energy levels – all of which are key for staying on task at work or school. A recent study by the National Sleep Foundation found that those who slept fewer than six hours per night were almost four times as likely to report feeling excessively tired during the day in comparison with those sleeping more than seven hours nightly.
- Difficulty concentrating & Increased risk of accidents
When you don’t get enough sleep, your attention span and cognitive function are impaired. Your reaction times will be slower, increasing the likelihood of accidents at work or on the road. This is a consequence of changes in brain chemicals like serotonin which affect mood (depression) as well as memory formation and concentration levels. When these chemical imbalances occur, they reduce motivation to perform tasks because it takes more mental effort than normal to complete them with decreased efficacy. Researchers have found that lack of sleep can lead to “inattentional blindness,” an inability to perceive what’s going on right before our eyes when we’re mentally tired–such as missing a stop sign while driving!
- Lack of energy and motivation
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that acts as an “inhibitory transmitter,” meaning it sends signals to other neurons telling them not to fire. This means serotonin has the opposite effect of adrenaline, which stimulates our receptors and makes us more alert when under threat or stress. A lack of sleep can cause your brain cells to release less serotonin by slowing down its production in parts of the brain called raphe nuclei, where this chemical is made. Less serotonin leads to decreased energy and motivation levels because it’s harder for your nervous system (which regulates mood) to function properly without enough available serotonin.
- Poor memory
Sleep deprivation has been found to cause significant changes in the brain that affect your ability to remember things, including emotional memories. This is because sleep plays a crucial role in overseeing memory retention and retrieval by processing short-term memories into long-term ones. When we don’t sleep well at night, our brains are too tired from fighting against chronic stress all day for this important work to happen effectively.
Another way that sleep deprivation affects your memory is by making it more challenging to pay attention. If you’re not getting enough rest, you won’t be able to concentrate and instead feel like all the information coming in at once is too much for you to process with any clarity. This can lead to missing crucial details or asking questions about what was just said because you weren’t able to hear it properly – which demonstrates how important good quality sleep is when it comes down to retaining information.
- Irritability, anger, hostility, depression, and anxiety
Sleep deprivation leads to the release of cortisol, a hormone that increases your feelings of stress. This, combined with the lack of sleep, can lead to changes in brain activity which may result in an inability to regulate emotions, leading you to experience irritability, anger or hostility (especially when tired), depression, anxiety, and mood swings.
- Weight gain or weight loss
Sleep deprivation causes a decrease in energy expenditure and an increase in appetite. The less sleep you get, the more likely your diet will be high in sugar and fat or processed food items such as fast foods. This can lead to weight gain for those who are already overweight and body weight loss if you’re trying to maintain or lose weight by eating healthily on a smaller calorie intake – but either way leads to poor nutrition, which has further negative consequences!
Your metabolism slows down during periods of sleep deprivation due to decreased levels of leptin (the hormone that regulates our hunger), so there’s not only increased cravings for unhealthy snacks like chocolate bars and ice cream – these things convert into fat quicker than when we have a sufficient sleep – but it also leads to more severe health problems such as diabetes and obesity.
- Your skin will look worse
In addition to these other side effects, lack of sleep can also cause the skin to age more quickly. A study found that men and women who got less than six hours of sleep a night for four weeks had “significantly” increased wrinkles on their faces when compared with those who slept at least eight hours per night during the same time. Dark circles under your eyes are another sign you’re not getting enough rest – as they typically appear because blood vessels near the eye area become swollen from all-night tossing and turning. It can make someone look tired or unwell rather than rested!
- Higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease
Studies have shown that people who don’t sleep enough are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. When you’re not getting the right amount of sleep, your body releases a hormone called norepinephrine which can cause blood vessels in your heart to constrict and make it harder for nutrients and oxygen-rich blood to reach other organs (like your brain).
- Reduced immunity to illness or infection
Studies show that the immune system’s effectiveness decreases when you don’t get enough sleep. It becomes more difficult for your body to fight off bacteria, viruses, or even cancer cells! This is because the immune system creates T cells to fight off infection-causing microorganisms and cancer cells. When sleep-deprived, these cells cannot function properly or even replicate themselves, leading a person with an already compromised immune system at greater risk of long-term health problems like chronic infections or depression.
Rethink Your Health Habits
So if not getting enough shut-eye has such detrimental effects on your body – be sure to rethink any health habits (smoking, drinking alcohol), which may also affect how well-rested you get! It’s essential for you as an individual but also for those around you.
Naps are a great way to boost your energy and cognitive function. Take them before work or during the day if you find yourself feeling drowsy!
If you have trouble falling asleep, try some deep breathing exercises first rather than just counting sheep. Eat healthy snacks in moderation (fruit, nuts) because even though they’re good for you, foods high in sugar can be harmful when consumed late at night. Limit caffeine intake, too – this might make it more difficult to fall asleep. Frequent exercise is also essential: think about being active throughout the week instead of saving up your weekly quota for one day. Get plenty of sunlight during the day and wear a sleep mask at night if necessary to help regulate your circadian rhythms.
Lastly, consult with a sleep doctor, somnologist, or sleep disorder specialist. Many things can contribute to sleep deprivation. If you’re having trouble sleeping or staying asleep, get in touch with a professional who specializes in the field of sleep medicine for help!