Approximately 1 in 3 American adults don’t get enough sleep a night. It’s a very common problem with some pretty serious side effects. The recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night does more than prevent grogginess. There are some real long term effects of sleep deprivation. In general, lack of sleep drains your mental capacity and puts your physical health at risk.
So, what is the definition of sleep deprivation and what is the cause? Sleep deprivation is caused by a lack of sleep or of reduced quality of sleep. While there are some superficial factors that may lead to a poor night’s sleep it’s always important to remember that there may be an underlying sleep disorder. If you find yourself consistently sleeping poorly, it’s important to speak to your physician. Let’s take a dive in and see what the long term effects of a poor night’s sleep are:
- Lack of alertness. Even missing as little as an hour and a half of sleep can impact your alertness during the day.
- Impaired memory. Lack of sleep affects your ability to think and process information, which inhibits your ability to remember things easily.
- Stress. Not enough sleep can make you feel moody and impact your ability to connect with others which may leave you feeling stressed out more frequently.
- Quality of life. When you don’t sleep enough, you may become less likely to participate in things that you used to enjoy participating in. You may find yourself too tired to participate in normal daily activities.
- Greater likelihood for accidents. Drowsy driving accounts for thousands of crashes, injuries, and fatalities each year. When you drive drowsy or work drowsy, your ability to make quick decisions is impaired which may lead to an accident on the road or an accident at work or home.
- Risk of Heart Disease. Sleep deprivation may lead to increased blood pressure and higher levels of chemicals linked to inflammation, which play roles in cardiovascular disease.
- Weight Gain. When you are sleep deprived, the chemicals that signal to your brain that you are full become off balance. As a result, you may become more likely to overindulge, when you’ve had enough to eat.
- Weakened immune system. When you don’t sleep enough, your immune system’s defenses against viruses are weaker. This will leave you more at risk for developing colds and flus, amongst other illnesses.
Always remember to talk to your doctor if you are having difficulty sleeping. Keep reading our Bedtime Stories to learn more about how to help yourself sleep better at night.