It’s hard to get a full night’s rest. Staying up late because of children, work, or just wanting to squeeze in an extra hour of leisure often keeps you up past the optimal bedtime. Every day you miss an hour of sleep, you begin to accumulate a sleep debt that is hard to overcome.
Here is a look at some of the short and long term negative effects sleep deprivation wreaks on the body and mind.
When you miss out on a good night’s rest your ability to react properly is dulled. It’s much easier to have an accident while sleepy. This can be as small as dropping something or as large as a workplace disaster. When you drive sleepy you are taking a risk akin to driving while slightly intoxicated.
This is one of the more obvious symptoms caused by lack of sleep. You’ll find it harder to pay attention, and thinking clearly becomes a struggle. This is especially bad for tasks that require a high level of attention, but have a low level of activity. Students and individuals with low energy jobs will find themselves nodding off if they aren’t focused.
Sleep deprivation doesn’t only affect us in the short term, but can also have long term effects. Not getting enough sleep can contribute towards depression, both in the long and short term. Getting enough sleep is important for your mental well being, as it extra stress on your brain occurs when you don’t sleep enough. This can also lead to a vicious cycle of depression causing a situation where falling asleep becomes harder and, therefore, increases sleep deprivation. So, if you notice yourself becoming depressed, evaluate your sleep hygiene and seek medical help to deal with your mental disorder – be it through therapy, medication, or a combination of both.
After a night of missed or short sleep, it’s easy to spot the short term physical signs: bags under the eyes, discoloration, and wrinkling. Did you know that missing sleep has long term negative effects on your skin? Missing sleep causes your body a lot of stress, releasing the stress hormone called cortisol, which damages skin. If you want to keep your skin youthful and taut for as long as possible, getting your beauty rest is important.
As we age our memories become less sharp. Sleep has a similar effect. When you don’t sleep properly, not only do you fail to remember things, but you also aren’t retaining information as well. This can have a profound impact on students’ grades or professionals who must recollect or maintain a lot of information in their jobs.
Sleep itself is involved in retaining memories, so you’ll find that on nights you don’t sleep well, the previous day’s events won’t be as clear to you as they normally are. Another negative effect is that it becomes more difficult to remember information in moments of stress.
While the Hollywood image of an insomniac may be gaunt, the opposite is typically true. Those that miss out on sleep often gain weight. An individual’s risk of obesity may rise as much as 30 per cent. So, if you’re trying to lose weight or want to maintain your current weight, it’s important that you manage your sleep schedule in addition to what you eat and the amount of activity you have in a day.
While all the previous effects are serious in their own right, lack of sleep can have some extremely negative long-term effects in regards to life threatening diseases. The list of diseases that have risk factor increases linked to lack of sleep is long, and includes: diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, all of which are leading causes of death in the USA. Additionally, sleep deprivation can cause your immune system to run sub-optimally. This puts you at a higher risk of catching contagious illnesses.
Sleep Soundly with Dr. Shukla
The first step towards better sleep is to establish proper sleep hygiene with the guidance of a trained specialist. Schedule a consultation with trusted pulmonologist Dr. Mayank Shukla at the Asthma Allergy Sleep Center of New York today.