Most everyone can probably remember how they felt when they had a restless night of sleep — cranky, tired, and in a fog. Sound familiar? You might also remember dreaming about going back to bed or taking a nap throughout the day. Missing out on one night’s sleep isn’t really that big of a deal, but missing sleep on a regular basis can be. The long-term effects of sleep deprivation can have profound consequences on your health and overall well-being.
The Health Risks of Sleep Deprivation
It is recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. If you are not getting enough sleep and you are constantly feeling like a zombie or fighting the drowsies, you may be sleep deprived. Obviously we know what it does to us after just one night of poor sleep, so what do you think happens to our bodies night after night? The long-term effects of sleep deprivation on the body are real. Poor sleep not only puts your mental capabilities in a fog, but it also puts your health at risk. There have been many scientific studies linking sleep deprivation and a number of health related problems. Some of these health related problems include:
Your brain helps you process and remember new information while you sleep. Lack of sleep can negatively impact both short-term and long-term memory. According to a research study in 2018, just one night of poor sleep can lead to an accumulation of the beta amyloid protein in the brain. This protein is a key factor in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Changes in Mood
Even partial sleep deprivation can significantly impact a person’s mood. It can cause people to be quick-tempered, emotional, and moody. Chronic sleep deprivation can affect your mood to the point where it leads to anxiety and depression. In a recent study at the University of Pennsylvania, researchers found those who were limited to only 4.5 hours of sleep each night for a period of one week stated they felt more stressed, sad, angry, and exhausted mentally. Interesting enough, once they went back to a normal sleep routine, they reported a drastic improvement in their mood.
Trouble with Concentration
When you don’t get enough rest, your thinking, concentration, problem-solving, and creativity are not up to par. Scientists have found that sleep deprivation slows the thought process and leads to lower alertness. Since it is more difficult to pay attention and focus when you are tired, it can hinder your ability to perform daily tasks that require complex thought or reasoning.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure has been associated with not getting enough sleep. More specifically, the risk is higher for people who sleep six hours or less each night. Sleep has been found to help your blood regulate stress hormones and keep your nervous system healthy. Over time, sleep deprivation could keep your body from regulating stress hormones, leaving your body in a state of “hyperarousal,” which could increase your risk for higher blood pressure.
Risk of Heart Disease
The risk of heart disease has been found to be more common among those with sleep disorders. Sleep deprivation may lead to higher levels of chemicals linked to inflammation and increased blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart disease.
Weakened Immune System
Sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system’s defense against common cold and flu viruses. On the other hand, getting quality sleep allows for strong immune defense, effective response to vaccines & less severe reactions.
Increased risk of diabetes
Not getting enough sleep can also affect your body’s ability to release insulin, which is a hormone that lowers blood sugar levels. Those who are sleep deprived also have higher blood sugar levels & an increased chance for Type 2 diabetes.
Lack of sleep is also known to contribute to weight gain. A recent 2018 study found a higher chance of obesity developing in people who slept fewer than seven hours each night than those who slept more. When you are sleep deprived, the chemicals that normally tell your brain you are full are out of balance. Because of this, you are more likely to overeat even if you’ve had enough food. Sleep restriction is also linked to inflammation and salt retention.
Addressing Sleep Deprivation Can Improve Your Well Being
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), one-third of U.S. adults get less sleep than they should. If you have tried to improve the quality of your sleep and you still feel like you are constantly tired, feel anxious, or depressed, there’s help. Just Breathe DDS can help advise you on the best treatment for your sleep deprivation. We treat both the symptoms and causes associated with snoring, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, insomnia and other sleep breathing disorders. Our treatment is a short-term process, generally one year, with results that last a lifetime. For more information or to set up a free consultation, give us a call today at (208) 500-3030.