You may be trying to beat the clock, stay-up late, and be productive, but in the end, sleep deprivation will greatly undermine your progress. Below are the top negative effects from the lack of adequate sleep – defined as at least 7 hours per night.
- Impaired concentration and cognitive abilities.
Sleep is important for various aspects of brain function. When you lack sleep, your concentration and decision-making skills diminish. On the flip-side, adequate sleep has been shown to improve problem-solving skills and enhance memory.
2. Lowered physical performance.
Studies have shown that poor sleep reduces fine motor skills, reaction time, problem solving skills, and muscular strength and endurance.
3. May weaken your heart.
Numerous studies suggest that lack of sleep and low-quality sleep may increase your risk of developing heart disease and high blood pressure.
4. Increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Sleeping less hours per night is associated with a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance – which is when your body cannot use insulin properly. In addition, lack of sleep causes behavioral changes, including poor decision making regarding what foods you are eating and how much – which also increases diabetes risk.
5. Higher depression, isolation and lower social interactions.
Mental health concerns, such as depression, are strongly linked to poor sleep quality. Sleep loss also reduces your ability to regulate emotions and interact socially. When we’re tired, we have a harder time controlling emotional outbursts and behavior in front of others. Tiredness may also affect our ability to respond to humor and show empathy. In addition, people who are chronically sleep-deprived are more likely to withdraw from social events and experience loneliness.
6. Lowers immunity.
Lack of sleep has been shown to impair immune function. In one study, participants who slept fewer than 5 hours per night were 4.5 times more likely to develop a cold compared than who slept more than 7 hours. Those who slept 5–6 hours were 4 times more likely. Data also suggests that proper sleep may improve your body’s antibody responses to vaccines.
7. Poor sleep is linked to increased inflammation.
Poor sleep can have a major effect on inflammation in the body. Sleep loss is known to activate inflammatory signaling pathways and lead to higher levels of inflammation, which, over time can cause the development of many chronic conditions, including obesity, heart disease, certain types of cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
8. Lack of sleep can be dangerous.
Not getting enough sleep can be dangerous for yourself and others. When we’re tired, our focus, reflexes, and reaction time decreases. In fact, being severely sleep-deprived is comparable to having consumed excess alcohol. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 25 people have fallen asleep while driving, and most of the time this is a result of sleeping less than 6 hours a night. In addition to increased risks associated with driving, lack of sleep may also increase the risk of workplace injury and errors.
9. Weight gain and higher BMI.
Studies shows that a lack of sleep is associated with a greater risk of weight gain and a higher body mass index (BMI). This is because sleep deprivation increases ghrelin – the hunger hormone and decreases leptin – the hormone that makes us feel full, therefore, we feel hungrier and overeat. In addition, to compensate for less sleep and energy, your body craves foods that are higher in sugar and fat, due to their higher calorie content. To make matters worse, when you are tired, you are less motivated to hit the gym, go for a walk, or do any physical activity.
The bottom line is that lack of sleep is associated with many negative health effects, including increased risk of heart disease, depression, weight gain, inflammation, and illness. Though individual needs vary, most research suggests that you should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night for optimal health.
When you do get your adequate hours of sleep per night, your brain is more clear and you are focused and creative. Therefore, start prioritizing and scheduling your sleep, and you’ll be amazed that you actually become more effective and productive!