Whether you delay your sleep because of video games, 9Gag or Reddit, your sleep deprivation could have some very serious side effects. Both chronic and partial sleep deprivation affects not only your mood, but it results in daytime sleepiness, headaches, and poor concentration, to name a few.
The hormone melatonin is secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, somewhere between 9 and 10pm. It helps to maintain the body’s circadian rhythm and regulates other hormones like the timing and release of female reproductive hormones. When it is dark, your body produces more melatonin, and when it is light, melatonin production drops.
You can see why learning how to improve and protect your melatonin production is important to your overall state of well-being. But, what happens when we don’t take the necessary steps to ready ourselves for bed, and instead stay up long into the night, only to wake tired, groggy, and moody? Without further adieu, here are 10 negative side effects of sleep deprivation you need to know.
HIGHER LEVELS OF ANXIETY
When we sleep, our body repairs itself and relaxes muscle tension caused by stress. When we slack on our sleep, this stress builds up, and essentially doubles the stress tension for the next day (making it more difficult to cope). The mind body connection is strong, and stress on the body, if not repaired through proper sleep, will lead to stressful thoughts and manifest as anxiety.
Anxiety is also caused by chronic adrenaline release, something that is also linked with those who get little sleep each night.
HIGHER LEVELS OF DEPRESSION
Lack of sleep interferes with our neurotransmitters and can ultimately lead to a decline in synaptic signalling between neurons, which normally regulate our mood.
Lack of sleep has been directly correlated with less focus during the day and a decline in forming proper memories. The journal, SLEEP, also found that just one night of sleep deprivation was associated with loss of brain tissue.
HIGHER RISK OF STROKE
Studies have been done, which have found that insomniacs have the highest risk of stoke compared to those with no sleeping problems. Lack of sleep weakens cardiovascular health, raising blood pressure and restricting blood flow to the brain.
RISK OF SOME CANCERS INCREASE
Studies have linked lack of sleep to both colorectal and deadly breast cancers. People who don’t get enough sleep tend to have lower melatonin levels, and this can lead to low-grade inflammation, a main trigger for almost all cancer types.
OBESITY RISK INCREASES
Melatonin also regulates the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When we sleep less, ghrelin levels increase, while leptin levels decrease, setting up a perfect scenario for weight gain and potential obesity. Not to mention, sleep deprived individuals are less likely to exercise, because they are too tired, and since these people are awake longer, they have more opportunities to eat.
RISK OF DIABETES GOES UP
According to Mark Mahowald, MD, “there is some evidence that sleep deprivation could lead to a pre-diabetic state.” Sleep loss disrupts glucose metabolism, leading to decreases in insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, which can eventually result in diabetes if consistently elevated.
HYPERTENSION RISK INCREASES
Sleeping only 5-6 hours a night significantly increases blood pressure. Sleep regulates stress hormones, which in turn regulate and ensure a healthy blood pressure. If you have chronic sleep loss, your risk of hypertension increases significantly.
HIGHER RISK OF INJURY
Lack of sleep puts a toll on our perception and judgment. In fact, a study published in the journal, SLEEP, evaluating 1,741 men and women over the duration of 10-14 years found that men who slept less than six hours a night, had a significant increase in mortality risk, even after diabetes, hypertension and other factors were controlled for.
IMMUNE SYSTEM SUPPRESSION
Sleep deprivation suppresses the immune system, decreasing your body’s ability to respond to viral or bacterial infections. Many studies have shown that our T-cell production goes down if we are sleep deprived, and these cells normally aid in a healthy functioning immune system.