HomeGeneral Health MattersSleep Deprivation Unhealthy Consequences

Sleep Deprivation Unhealthy Consequences

Sleep is vital for health and well-being and sleep deprivation causes many unhealthy consequences on our body. However, today still there are many people don’t care about getting enough quality sleep regularly. Sleep Deprivation Unhealthy Consequences

As a matter of fact, the CDC says 1-in-3 American adults don’t get enough sleep.

Additionally, the CDC also considers insufficient sleep as a public health problem.

Clearly, there is a growing problem for sleep deprivation. And, this is not just a problem for Americans but global.

To prove this, the World Sleep Day says sleep deprivation is now a health threat to 45% of the global population.

Money and Sleep Deprivation

A lot of people these days are risking their life and health for money. Today, our society, particularly in urban environment people, are not getting enough sleep.

Corporate careers are now operating 24-hours a day in shifts. And, employees are revolving these shifts including the graveyard shift, which is the night shift. During night time, a lot of people are working instead of sleeping.

Sleep Deprivation Due To Work

This kind of environment, probably, is the primary reason sleep deprivation is on a rising trend. Unfortunately, even though it sounds advanced both technologically and educationally, but this kind of working environment put people’s life and health at risk.

Science is clear that sleep deprivation or poor sleep causes the following health conditions;

  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Weakens the body’s immune system
  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Lack of libido or sex drive
  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Increases risk of serious illnesses such as stroke, diabetes, heart disease, neurological disorders, and cancers.

Furthermore, poor sleep is also among the causes of road accidents, errors in work such as industrial disasters and medical errors. It also decreases efficiency and productivity at work.

These inefficiencies at work can lead to financial losses. In one study1, researchers say that the U.S. has an estimated losses of $411 billion annually from workers who only get less than 6 hours of sleep every night.

The Toll Of Sleep Deprivation On The Body

We’ve already mentioned the long-term side-effects of sleep deprivation. Now, we’re going to explore the almost immediate negative consequences of poor sleep. Among these obvious signs include;

  • Moodiness
  • Dull and weak reflexes
  • Irritability
  • Fuzzy mind

1. Dull or Slow Reflexes

Drowsy Driving

A study2 in 2010 on consequences of sleep deprivation found that 17 to 19 hours without sleep can impair reflexes.

The researchers also found that length of time without sleep is similar drinking alcohol. And, even longer without sleep between 20 to 25 hours surpasses the U.S. legal driving limit for alcohol consumption.

This is why it’s risky to drive when you’re not sleeping well. This can lead to road accidents and even loss of life. But, that’s not all…

Even people who are sleeping less than the recommended number of hours are also at risk. In one study3, researchers find that people who are sleeping less than 6 hours per night consecutively for 2 weeks suffer side-effects on cognitive function and reflexes.

2. Difficult To Focus

Lack of Sleep Difficult To Focus

During sleep, we thought we’re doing nothing but in reality, our brain is busy while we sleep. Sleep allows the body to prepare for the next day. It sort of recharging and rejuvenating the body both mentally and physically.

In turn, this allows us to absorb new information easily, learn skills quickly and retain memories more efficiently. While we’re sleeping, we don’t have any idea what we’re doing but the brain is doing some heavy lifting to keep us alert when we wake up.

Ignoring sleep has many negative impacts including difficulty to focus and learn new things, less creative, less effective in solving problems and even affects decision making. Moreover, chronic sleep deprivation is linked to anxiety and depression.

Moreover, there are studies4 linking sleep apnea5 and cognitive impairment. Even insomnia has been associated with brain shrinkage6.

This is alarming, isn’t it? These conditions are the product of irregular and fewer sleep hours. Therefore, make it a habit to achieve regular quality sleep. Don’t ignore it especially for children as poor sleep during early years in life can lead to cognitive impairment like dementia and Alzheimer’s7.

3. Inefficient Healing of the Body

When it comes to healing, the body needs deep sleep. During a full cycle of deep sleep, the body release hormones necessary for repairing cells and building tissues. This is particularly important to the brain, especially in young children and teens.

Teens and preteens need a minimum of 9 hours of sleep every night. However, the truth is that many of them today are not getting enough sleep. There are many reasons that prevent today’s youngsters from getting enough sleep such as early start times for school and addicted to using gadgets like tabs and smartphones and even video games.

All these intoxicate them with high-stress levels and making the habit of late night sleep. The National Sleep Foundation poll finds that over 90% of high school students in the U.S. are suffering from incessant sleep deprivation.

Furthermore, one study8 at the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report says this habitual lack of sleep can lead to risky behaviours like not wearing helmet or seat belt, texting or even drinking while driving.

Another alarming finding is that teens who are getting less than 8 hours of sleep are likely to develop migraines, obesity, substance use, sexual activity, lack of motivation to exercise, depression and even suicidal thoughts.

4. Weight Gain (and even) Obesity

Most people who lack sleep are either overweight or obese. Of course, not all but the majority of them especially those working night shifts are affected.

There are studies9 that find sleep deprivation can increase food cravings and weight gain. The reason for it is due to these peptides namely; ghrelin and leptin.

When you don’t get enough sleep, the level of ghrelin goes up and makes you hungry. On the other hand, leptin, which is a signal for fullness to the brain, the level decreases.

Moreover, sleep deprivation also increases stress level particularly the hormone cortisol, which is the body’s primary stress hormone. Additionally, even though cortisol seems a bad hormone but it also has functions such as controlling blood sugar levels and regulating the body’s metabolism.

Unfortunately, when stress happens, the increasing level of cortisol triggers the body to release more insulin. In turn, this drops the blood sugar and lead to food cravings. Most foods the brain craves when this happens are fatty and sugary foods.

Sadly, most foods readily available with these properties are junk foods containing fewer nutrients but high in simple carbs. These simple carbs are the ones causing weight gain and eventually obesity.

5. Unhealthy and Shorter Lifespan

One British study10 back in 2007 found that reducing number of sleep hours from 7 to 5 or fewer are twice at risk of dying especially with heart-related diseases.

Furthermore, studies11 also have shown a link between sleep deprivation and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, sleep deprivation can trigger a series of unhealthy consequences. For instance, weight gain leads to obesity, which eventually result to type 2 diabetes.

What’s even more alarming is that lack of sleep can negatively impact the body’s immune system, which opens vulnerability to flu and colds, infections and viruses.

As mentioned earlier, deep sleep cycle allows the body to repair cells and build tissues. Lack of sleep, on the other hand, compromises the following vital functions, which contributes to sickness and serious illnesses and even result in early death.

But that’s not all. Sleep deprivation also messes up the genes. In fact, in a small study12 of just 15 men, the researchers find that habitual lack of sleep has a negative impact on the body’s circadian rhythm.

Although the researchers are not sure whether the changes are permanent, this can lead to an alteration of those genes.

Why Some People Handle Lack of Sleep Better Than Others?

Have you noticed this with your friends or co-workers? There are individuals who can tolerate well without sleep while other people can’t.

For instance, Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara doesn’t get much sleep and yet, he lived over 100 years. If you’re asking the same question, this video might be helpful.

5 Tips Towards Healthy Sleep Habits

Now, let us take a look what can we do towards shifting healthy sleep habits. Keep in mind, habits are hard to break. Therefore, if you have bad sleeping habits, it might take a while to overcome them.

However, these tips can be helpful towards shifting and maintaining healthy sleep habits and eventually make sleep deprivation a history.

1. Comfort and Temperature

If there’s one thing you can do first, start with your bedroom. This is a place where you suppose to spend a third of your lifetime. Make sure the temperature is cool but not too cool that you’re shivering and can’t get sleep well.

Also, make sure the pillows and the bed itself is comfortable. And, most of all, avoid gadgets and television inside the bedroom. Respect your bedroom as your place of sleep. After all, sleep is the gateway to the subconscious and even heaven.

So, treat it with respect and sleep well.

2. Choice of Lighting

Having bright lights inside the bedroom is not a bad idea but make sure during sleep you turn them off. Even lights from gadgets like smartphones, laptops, and television can disrupt regular sleep pattern.

Another thing is to eliminate any sounds that can cause a disturbance as you go to sleep. If the sounds are unavoidable, try to use ear plugs. Of course, as you wake up the next morning, always make it a habit to have early morning sun exposure. This helps maintain your circadian rhythm.

3. Food and Drinks

Foods can significantly influence a person’s sleep pattern. Therefore, make sure you don’t drink certain drinks and eat certain foods that can hamper sleep.

For instance, alcohol and caffeine are among the top drinks to avoid and any foods containing caffeine.

4. Regular Exercise

One of the keys to good sleep and maintain proper circadian rhythm is regular exercise. Exercise is also a good memory booster and anti-aging, maintain motor skills and even boost sex life.

When it comes to exercise, although doing aerobics or HIIT is good, you don’t have t do it. In fact, a simple 10-minute walking exercise is good enough to boost your ability to achieve quality sleep.

5. Make Your Own Routine

Some people like having a routine prior to sleeping time. If you like it this one, make your own routine. It can be reading an inspiring book, listening to relaxing music, taking a bath or shower, doing a short meditation and even quick yoga stretches.

Just choose and make your own routine that makes you comfortable going to sleep. Even sleeping naked has many health benefits.

Supplements For Good Sleep

One of the popular sleep hacks is to take supplements. Keep in mind, don’t take sleep medications but supplements only unless you’re directed by your doctor.

Sleep supplements can help you fall to sleep more easily, help you recuperate and stay healthy.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.