Everyone has experienced a few sleepless nights or two. Whether you just can’t call it quits to a late-night Netflix binge or work stress keeps your mind racing, sleep often falls short on the list of priorities. While losing a few hours of downtime is relatively harmless every once in a while, consistently neglecting your sleep schedule is dangerous. Without proper rest and downtime, the human body begins to shut down. Soon, cognitive function deteriorates, and everyday tasks may seem like rocket science. Sleep deprivation also has physical impacts on the body, some of which can be life-threatening.
The hazards of sleepless nights are nothing to snooze on. Here are seven impacts of sleep deprivation.
A good night’s rest allows the body to regenerate what’s called the autonomic nervous system. The ANS is responsible for how the body reacts to positive or negative stimulants, such as sexual arousal. Interestingly, when the body does not get enough sleep, the ANS system is more sensitive to harmful stimuli and less responsive to positive ones. Thus, without eight or more hours of sleep, a normally zealous female sex drive is reduced to solemn inactivity.
Weakened immune system
Sleep is essential in building and maintaining a robust immune system. Without the recommended nine hours of rest, the body cannot conserve energy to fight off sickness. Similarly, those fighting infections are more likely to suffer from unpleasant side effects if they deprive their bodies of precious sleep.
If you have trouble remembering what you had for dinner last night, you might be experiencing sleep deprivation. During sleep, the brain creates new connections with information gathered that day. The connection process is crucial to store new memories and maintain them over long periods. If you consistently neglect your sleep, both short and long-term memory will deteriorate over time.
Just as a lack of sleep impacts connections in the brain, muscle memory is similarly tied to rest. When the body is deprived of a night’s sleep, you might experience a lack of coordination and stumble through your day. Not only does poor balance make everyday tasks near impossible, but it also puts you at a higher risk of fall-related injuries.
Your brain receives essential signals from the body when you sleep, like those indicating hunger. The hormone that tells your brain you are full is called leptin, and sleep deprivation causes leptin levels to decrease dramatically. The result of low leptin causes you to overindulge during a meal and inevitably ends in weight gain.
Higher risk of diabetes
The relationship between diabetes and sleep deprivation is a vicious cycle. Those who don’t get enough sleep compensate with frequent snacking, especially with foods high in sugar. Not only do sleep-deprived individuals eat more sugary foods to gain a brief burst in energy, but low leptin levels signal them to overindulge even further. The result is heightened blood sugar in the body that insulin cannot convert into energy, putting the individual at a higher risk of developing diabetes.
It’s a standard parenting move to treat a toddler’s temper tantrum with a simple midday nap and for a good reason. Sleep-deprived individuals are more likely to feel frustrated by mundane triggers. Something as simple as a traffic light may cause a tired person to feel irritated the rest of their day. In addition to irritability, people who don’t get enough rest often report mood disorders like depression and anxiety. The connection between mental health and sleep should not be taken lightly.
Sleep is an essential step in self-care. Without a solid eight or more hours, the body cannot regenerate energy levels or retain information. Sleep deprivation can have lasting impacts on mental health, physical aptitude, and even risk of disease. So the next time you’re thinking of pulling an all-nighter, remember to show yourself some love and hit the sack.