Sleep deprivation is a dangerous phenomenon that can take a heavy toll on your body, making you more vulnerable to all kinds of infections, illnesses, and disorders as a result. While a few restless nights may not seem like much reason for worry, beware that a sleep deficit can add up to serious damage.
To understand the urgency of getting enough sleep, read on to discover the 3 scary effects of sleep deprivation on your health.
1. Impoverished mental health
If you miss a single night of sleep, you will immediately notice a drop in your mood the next day. Multiply the number of nights you lose sleep and the long-term effects are even direr. With continual sleep deprivation, you may start to experience excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue, with attached changes to your mood, like increased irritability and moodiness. In addition, studies have linked chronic sleep debt to mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
Sleep is a vital function that promotes brain plasticity, giving your brain the time it needs to process and consolidate information overnight. Without sufficient sleep, you prevent your brain from forming the pathways between nerve cells that support these functions. As a result, you may start to suffer from impaired memory, slowed thinking, and reduced attention span. All this leads to impoverished mental health on a daily basis, adversely affecting your quality of life.
2. Impaired immune system
If you are constantly feeling ill or sick, a lack of sleep may be the culprit. Sleep deprivation compromises the body’s immune system, leaving you at higher risk for catching all kinds of infections and illnesses. Lack of sleep can literally make you sick by causing you to be sick more frequently or taking longer to recover from any illness or sickness.
The body typically produces cytokines, a type of protein that combats bacteria and viruses, as you sleep. Sleep is also the time when the body works to regulate its response to allergens and to counteract inflammation. When you disrupt sleep, all of these processes are inhibited, making you more susceptible to colds, flu, and other illnesses.
3. Increased risk for cardiovascular disease
Sleep issues like insomnia and sleep deprivation are often associated with high blood pressure. High blood pressure increases your chance for serious heart conditions like heart attack, heart failure, and stroke as well as diabetes.
Healthy sleep is normally prime recovery time for the heart. As your body rests, blood pressure levels fall and the heart rate slows, allowing it to recuperate from the strains and stress of the day. In contrast, lack of sleep causes the body to go into overdrive producing cortisol, a stress hormone that spikes blood pressure levels. Conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea, contribute to an increase in blood pressure as impaired breathing and reduced blood oxygen levels strain the cardiovascular system.
If you are suffering from sleep deprivation or sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea, do not hesitate to seek medical help.