Many people choose to sacrifice their sleep in order to get more done each day. While using a few hours of your nap time to work or study more may seem like the best way of “going the extra mile”, sleep deprivation can have a wide range of negative effects. Unfortunately, the disadvantages of not getting enough sleep are beyond daytime drowsiness and can’t be fixed with a daily dose of caffeine. Lack of sleep can jeopardize your safety and that of others around you or lead to serious health consequences. The following is a list of some surprising negative effects of inadequate sleep.
1 – Faster Aging
Sleep deprivation can affect the way you look and accelerate the aging process. After just a few days of sleepless nights, many people start to develop wrinkles, lackluster skin and dark circles under the eyes. Much of this is caused by higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body which are elevated when you don’t get enough rest. When in excess, cortisol breaks down collagen – a protein that keeps the skin smooth, elastic and looking young.
2 – Health Problems
A few nights of missed sleep can be fixed easily with more rest during subsequent days and is unlikely to have long lasting effects on your health. However, when you don’t sleep well for weeks, months, or even years, this will start to take a serious toll on your health and put you at a much higher risk of developing a range of health problems including depression, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
3 – Increased Risk of Causing Accidents
Lack of sleep causes drowsiness which can increase the risk of accidents when driving, operating machines and performing various other tasks. Drowsiness slows down your reaction times and this makes it much more difficult to respond when you need to. This is why fatigue is one of the leading causes of automobile accidents on the roads today.
4 – Poor Mental Performance
If you’re sleep deprived, many of your cognitive responses will not function at peak levels. Your attention span, reasoning, sense of judgment and problem solving skills will be impaired when the body is not well rested. Lack of sleep also affects the way your brain processes and stores information and you’ll tend to forget things more often. All of these factors make performing effectively and productively during the day very difficult.
5 – Weight Gain
It may be hard to believe that not sleeping enough can cause you to pack on some extra pounds. However, recent studies have found that shortened sleep time decreases the levels of leptin (a hormone that suppresses your appetite) in your body while also elevating levels of ghrelin (a hormone that induces hunger). A lack of sleep also reduces your human growth hormone (a hormone that stimulates muscle growth and fat burning) levels which limits the rate at which your body burns fat. The overall result is that if you don’t sleep enough, you’ll be more likely to overeat and your body will burn off these excess calories at a slower rate.
As you can see, skimping on sleep is a bad idea. While it may seem like it’s not a big deal, it can have serious consequences on your health and performance. So make sure you’re getting at least 6 hours of high quality sleep every single night to avoid the adverse effects discussed in this article.