Lack of sleep can cause problems for your physical and mental wellbeing. The British government’s National Health Service or NHS maintained that “a solid night’s sleep is key to a long, healthy life,” even as it estimated that “1 in 3 [persons] suffers from poor [quality] sleep.” The service warned that sleep deprivation could lead to more serious consequences.
”Your brain will fog, making it difficult to concentrate and make decisions. You’ll start to feel down, and may fall asleep during the day. Your risk of injury and accidents at home, work and on the road also increases.”
WebMD.com reiterated these findings. They warned that lack of quality sleep, as indicated by chronic drowsiness, forgetfulness and other symptoms, “can hinder you from thinking clearly and keeping your emotions at an even keel…excessive [daytime] sleepiness can hurt work performance, wreak havoc on relationships, and lead to mood problems,” the website warned.
Yet these links between quality sleep and mental or physical health problems are just the tip of the iceberg.
Experts noted that regular lack of sleep will put you at risk of various mental ailments. “Chronic sleep debt may lead to long-term mood disorders like clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder in adults. When people with anxiety or depression were surveyed to calculate their sleeping habits, it turned out that most of them slept for less than 6 hours a night,” said the NHS.
The healthline.com added that insufficient sleep can disrupt your central nervous system. “During sleep, pathways form between nerve cells [neurons] in your brain that help you remember new information you’ve earned. Sleep deprivation leaves your brain exhausted, so it can’t perform its duties as well,” the website noted.
“If sleep deprivation continues long enough, you could start having hallucinations - seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there.” healthline.com also warned of other psychological risks from insufficient sleep like impulsive behavior, paranoia, and suicidal thoughts.
WebMD.com has found that chronic sleepiness slows down your thought process. “Sleep deprivation leads to lower alertness and concentration. It’s more difficult to focus and pay attention, so you’re more easily confused,” the website found. “This hampers your ability to perform tasks that require logical reasoning or complex thought.” Lack of Quality sleep can prove detrimental to judgment and decision making, as “you can’t assess situations as well and pick the right behavior.”
WebMD.com further noted that excessive sleepiness can impair memory, as “the nerve connections that make our memories are strengthened during sleep.” This includes “the things that we have learned and experienced over the course of the day into our short-term memory..” Symptoms include forgetfulness and misplacing items, as well as difficulties in focusing, concentration, and learning.
WebMD.com warned that the main danger of sleep deprivation was slowing reaction time. “Driving while sleepy is like driving with a blood alcohol content of .08% - over the legal [alcohol] limit in many [US] states.” Lack of sleep can also hamper ‘information-integration,’ the mental function that determines split-second decisions and hunches.
Quality sleep reinvigorates and energizes, because it bolsters your immune system. “While you sleep, your immune system produces protective, infection-fighting substances like antibodies and cytokines…to combat foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses,” said healthline.com.
The NHS linked weight issues and lack of quality sleep, and warned about the dire effects of long-term sleeplessness. “Poor [quality] sleep puts you at risk of serious medical conditions, including obesity, coronary heart disease and diabetes - and it shortens your life expectancy,” warned the NHS.
“Studies have shown that people who sleep less than 7 hours a day tend to gain more weight and have a higher risk of becoming obese than those who get 7 hours [of quality sleep].” The NHS also recommended up to 8 hours of quality sleep every night.
Experts noted the links between sleep and the respiratory system because of obstructive sleep apnea, the main nocturnal breathing disorder that afflicts millions of sleepers. “Obstructive sleep apnea can interrupt your sleep and lower your sleep quality,” said healthline.com. “As you wake up through the night, [obstructive sleep apnea] can cause sleep deprivation, which leaves you more vulnerable to respiratory infections like the common cold and flu. Sleep deprivation can also make existing respiratory diseases worse, such as chronic lung illness.”
Researchers have found that sleep and fertility are closely linked. “Regular sleep disruptions can cause infertility by reducing the secretion of reproductive hormones,” noted the NHS.
healthline.com reported similar findings. “Hormone production is dependent on your sleep. For testosterone production, you need at least 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep, which is about the time of your first R.E.M. episode,” said the website. “Waking up throughout the night could affect hormone production.”
As we have seen, quality sleep or sleep deprivation is intertwined with various health issues. Yet sleep experts offered one solution to this issue, namely more sleep. The NHS recommends to “try to add on an extra hour or 2 of sleep a night. The way to do this is to go to bed when you’re tired, and allow your body to wake you in the morning,” without an alarm clock, and start off by sleeping up to 10 hours a night, until the amount of sleep “gradually decreases to a normal level.”
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