How Lack of Sleep Affects Your Health
Sleep deprivation is linked to numerous chronic health problems. Let's face it, we all try to cram all we can into our days, Then on the weekend, we try to stretch the day even more. Whether on land or sea, chances are you aren't getting enough rest.
It seems that nowadays, almost no one gets enough sleep—how can we, when we have classes, jobs or children to attend to? But the experts are firm: sleep deprivation is bad for your health.
Numerous studies have shown that lack of sleep is associated with a greater risk for chronic diseases and health problems, including heart disease, heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes and diabetes. In fact, WebMD.com says that 90 percent of people with insomnia, a disorder characterized by difficulty falling and staying asleep, also have another health condition. HealthLine.com explains this is likely because the immune system builds up its forces while you sleep, making you more vulnerable without it.
It causes accidents
There is a very strong correlation between sleep deprivation, reduced efficiency and productivity, and increased errors and accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s NHTSA.gov, fatigue is a leading cause of auto crashes and crash-related deaths in the United States, particularly among people under 25 years of age; more than 100,000 auto crashes are caused by fatigue in the U.S. Sleep deprivation is also known to have been a factor behind some of the biggest disasters in history, such as the 1979 nuclear incident at Three Mile Island and the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl.
It can make you hungry
Not getting enough sleep can lead to an increased appetite, which isn’t a good thing if you’re already eating enough. According to Chris Winter, MD, owner of the Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine in Virginia, the brain will try to get energy from food if it hasn’t been getting the energy it needs from sleep. Sleep deprivation not only increases the production of ghrelin in the gut, which makes people crave sugary and fatty foods, but also affects leptin, the hormone that lets your brain know when you are fully sated.
It contributes to memory loss
If you can never seem to remember where you’ve put your car keys or what you were up to just a few nights ago, you might be quick to say “I have a bad memory,” but it could simply be a matter of sleep deprivation. According to Health.com, the problem is twofold: first, people don’t pay attention to their surroundings as much when they are tired, so they are less likely to remember things they never logged into memory in the first place; second, research from the National Institutes of Health has shown that sleep helps clear toxic molecules in the brain, which suggests that regular lack of sleep could prevent your brain from properly clearing its nervous system.
It is strongly linked to depression
In 2005, a Sleep in America poll showed that people who were diagnosed with depression or anxiety were significantly more likely to sleep less than six hours at night. A later study in 2007 showed that people with insomnia were five times more likely to develop depression than those without, and according to WebMD.com, the first symptom of depression is often insomnia. It doesn’t take full-blown insomnia to feel the effects, though; while sleep deprivation aggravates the symptoms of depression, depression can make it more difficult to fall asleep, causing a negative cycle that can be hard to escape.
If you suffer from sleep deprivation, your health may be affected in more ways than you think. So do yourself a favor and get some extra sleep.