Long Term Effects of Sleep Deprivation

After a night spent tossing and turning in your bed, it is quite natural to feel a bit cranky, tired, and out of sorts the very next day. However, if you fail to get an adequate amount of sleep for several nights, this will lead to sleep deprivation. Long term effects of sleep deprivation can be quite serious. Your body repairs itself during sleep and releases growth hormone as well. Therefore, sleep deprivation can hurt you in more ways than you can imagine.

What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

Not getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night does a lot more than make you feel grumpy and groggy. Here is a bit about the long-term effects of sleep deprivation.

1.    It Increases Junk Food Cravings

If you have been trying to lose weight, not getting enough sleep can make your journey a whole lot tougher. When you stay up late at night, you are likely to feel hungry and opt for high-calorie snacks you have in the fridge. It means that sleep deprivation makes you feel hungry and at the same time disrupts food choices. Your ability to judge how hungry you really are will be compromised and lead to overeating. Moreover, sleep deprivation can make you feel depressed, which may cause emotional eating. This means you would end up eating more calories than you should. Therefore, you should ensure that you get enough sleep each night for better weight management.

2.    It Affects Your Digestive System

It is natural to develop all sorts of digestive troubles when you eat all the wrong stuff and have no energy during the day to exercise. That is the reason why many people with sleep deprivation have digestive problems and become overweight as well. Ghrelin and leptin are two hormones responsible for regulating the feelings of hunger and fullness. Sleep deprivation can throw these hormones out of balance and make you feel hungry all the time. When you stay up all night, you are not going to have the energy you need to hit the gym. This will eventually lead to an increase in the levels of insulin, which in turn puts you at an increased risk of type-2 diabetes.

3.    It Increases Risk of Accidents

Not getting enough sleep means that you will stay tired throughout the day, and performing certain tasks in this state of sleepiness can cause serious accidents. Statistics show that sleep loss can be a public safety hazard, as your reaction times are not as sharp as they should be. In fact, fatigue is the primary cause of more than 100,000 auto crashes that occur each year in the United States. Even poor quality sleep can lead to a significant increase in your risk of having workplace accidents. In fact, excessive daytime sleepiness can lead to repeated work accidents.

4.    It Affects Your Skin

One of many long term effects of sleep deprivation will show on your skin. Not getting enough sleep will make you look older than you really are. It ages your skin and makes you deal with puffy eyes. Chronic sleep loss will also lead to fine lines, lackluster skin, and dark circles under your eyes. When you are sleep deprived, your body will be in a stressful state. This triggers the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which breaks down skin collagen and results in a loss of elasticity in your skin. Sleep deprivation also means that you do not give your body enough time to release human growth hormone, which is important for an increase in muscle mass, stronger bones, and healthy skin.

5.    It Leads to Memory Problems

You are likely to develop all sorts of mental health problems due to chronic sleep loss. It is quite natural to notice a decline in your cognitive function when you do not get enough sleep for a couple of nights. It will affect your memory too in that sleep helps your brain store memory, but sleep deprivation would cause memories to get stuck in the part of the brain that is responsible for memory forming, storing, and organizing. Your brain organizes thoughts and memories during deep 'slow wave' sleep, but sleep deprivation means you never reach that relaxing stage. This in turn can lead to memory loss and other cognitive issues.

6.    It Hurts Your Immune System

One of the long term effects of sleep deprivation is the damage to your immune system. Without a strong immune system, you just cannot fight infections and diseases. The immune system works by producing cytokines, which are called the infection-fighting substances. These substances help fight foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria. When you sleep, your body is in a relaxed state and your immune system will have more time and energy to defend your body against illnesses. Sleep deprivation can impair your immune system, which is why it takes longer to recover from an illness when you do not get enough sleep each night.

7.    It Affects Your Sex Life

Studies have found that sleep deprived men and women are at an increased risk of having a low sex drive. Similarly, sleep problems, such as sleep apnea that affect the quality of your sleep put you at a higher risk of having abnormally low testosterone levels. Your sex life suffers because of sleep deprivation because it results in sleepiness, depleted energy, and increased tension. With cortisol levels going up, it becomes more common to experience sexual problems. You might even lose interest in sex.

8.    It Causes Life-Threatening Consequences

Many studies have found that by increasing your risk of heart disease, sleep deprivation can cause life-threatening consequences. Experts say that people who get less than 6 hours of sleep a night are likely to die over a 14-year period. Sleep deprivation can also cause genetic changes that may have fatal effects on your health.