If you’re like most Americans, you’re all too familiar with the short-term effects of not getting enough sleep. Waking up groggy, tired, and irritable and struggling through the day one cup of coffee at a time has become a common, if not “normal,” experience for many of us.
Unfortunately, the habit of not getting enough sleep can pose more problems than these surface-level annoyances. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in depression, illness, and even life-threatening diseases.
Let’s shed some light on just how harmful losing sleep can be – and find ways to get the shut-eye we really need.
Why Is Sleep So Important?
Sleep is still a mystery to us. What happens when we sleep? What are dreams? Why do we need sleep? These are all questions that scientists have pondered for centuries. With modern research, we are learning more about sleep and why it’s so important.
It turns out that sleep is not just a way to rest our bodies after a long day. During sleep, our brain is actually quite active and solidifies memory and learning in this time. Tissue repair and healing occurs throughout the body and waste is removed more efficiently from our cells. Our immune system recharges. Our hormones balance.
These vital functions point to why a good 7-9 hours of sleep is so crucial to our overall health. But what happens when we consistently miss out?
The Harmful Effects Of Not Getting Enough Sleep
If you’re getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night regularly, you’re suffering from sleep deprivation. Fatigue, irritability and poor productivity might be the least of your problems. A lack of sleep contributes to some major health concerns:
Poor brain function
One of the most concerning issues with not getting enough sleep is the effect on the brain. Sleep is necessary for brain health, in both the short and long term.
Day to day, we need adequate sleep to maintain our brain plasticity. Brain plasticity refers to our brains ability to learn, remember, and adapt to new inputs. A healthy brain will stay sharp, creative, and be able to solve problems easily without stress.
A lack of sleep, however, will eventually start to impact memory and our ability to learn. Brain fog takes over and makes even simple decisions or tasks a struggle. Your brain on sleep deprivation is no better than your brain on alcohol.
More seriously, chronic sleep deprivation is linked to more severe conditions down the line such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Protect your brain now to prevent these issues later.
Poor mental health
Anxiety, depression, mood swings, irritability, and even paranoia can be enhanced by not getting enough sleep. In fact, we are 10 times more likely to be diagnosed with depression and 17 times more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety when we suffer from sleep deprivation.
Stress is also magnified when we’re running on too-little sleep. A lack of rest leaves us weak and overly reactive. Unfortunately, stress tends to keep us up at night and perpetuates the sleepless cycle.
The connection between sleep and mental health is not fully understood, but research shows that it has a strong connection to mood and emotions. If you are struggling with your mental health, managing your sleep cycles could be a step in the right direction.
From fertility to metabolism, hormones play a huge role in how our body functions. We need adequate sleep to keep these hormones balanced and in control. Hormones like estrogen, prolactin, testosterone, cortisol, leptin, ghrelin, and insulin are all affected by sleep. Even melatonin, the hormone that manages our sleep-wake cycle, becomes imbalanced by a lack of sleep.
A lack of sleep can throw our delicate balance off and cause issues like increased stress, weight gain, fatigue, infertility, menstrual issues, and continued insomnia.
A lack of sleep is closely linked with weight gain and difficulties in losing weight. Despite efforts in diet and exercise, you’re unlikely to lose weight when you aren’t getting enough sleep. Your body requires sleep to remove waste, burn fat, and balance hormones. Without those precious hours, we’re stuck and tired.
Imbalanced hormones, as discussed above, are a big culprit. Sleep deprivation leads to decreased levels of ghrelin and leptin, and therefore an increased appetite. Another hormone, cortisol, remains high in our systems when we don’t get enough sleep. Cortisol is the “stress hormone” that is infamous for increasing body fat, especially around the middle. This can lead to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other life-threatening conditions.
The best weight loss results come from a well-rounded approach: exercise, healthy diet, and adequate rest.
Weakened immune system
A healthy immune system thrives on quality sleep. When we are well rested, the body can easily tackle issues like colds and flus, allergies, and even stomach bugs. Our immune response is quick and effective.
Without enough sleep, our immune system is slow to respond and weak in its efforts. This mostly comes down to the production of cytokines. These proteins are produced during sleep and help our immune system target infections and inflammation. Without enough sleep, we simply don’t have enough cytokines and our immune system suffers.
A cold here or there isn’t such a big deal, but ongoing sleep deprivation will lead to a chronically weak immune system. Bigger and more damaging illness will have the chance to take over down the line. Protect your immune system with quality sleep now to stay healthy for years to come.
Sleep For Health
We don’t just sleep to rest, we sleep for health! The damaging effects of sleep deprivation can seem frightening but we have the power to take back control. Proper sleep is just like any other healthy habit – it’s ours for the taking with a little time, commitment, and some helpful tricks to get back on track.
Ready to revolutionize your sleep habit and get an extra hour (or three) of sleep per night? If you’ve been struggling to get enough sleep, it’s time to get cozy. A Bearaby weighted blanket has the power to transform a sleepless night into the stuff of dreams. You’ll experience less anxiety, fall asleep faster, and sleep more soundly all through the night. Now, let’s get those 8 hours!
The Harmful Effects Of Not Getting Enough Sleep
Let’s shed some light on just how harmful losing sleep can be and find ways to get the shut-eye we really need.
Less than 7 hours of sleep is not enough for most people and leads to a variety of harmful health issues. Mild effects of sleep deprivation include sleepiness, brain fog, irritability, and frequent colds.
A lack of sleep can have serious implications: heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety, and even Alzheimer’s disease are more likely in those who miss out on sleep.
Weighted blankets offer a simple and cozy way to get those extra hours in.
Did you know?
You can only survive 11 days without sleep.