Going to sleep at night is your brain’s time to recharge and prepare for tomorrow’s daily activities. Without this essential recovery period, you are putting yourself at risk to the dangerous side effects of lack of sleep. The 7 scary side effects of lack of sleep should be able to warn you of the potential dangers.
- Accidents – Accidents in the work place and accidents on the road are commonly caused by sleep deprivation. Simply put, sleep loss is a safety hazard, responsible for over 100,000 automobile accidents a year and hundreds of crash-related mortalities. Nodding off at the wheel not only puts your life in danger but the lives of the drivers around you. Research suggests that driving drowsy is equally as dangerous as driving drunk as it slows your reaction time. Individuals under the age of 25 are the most common demographic to be involved in a sleep related automobile accident.
- Health Concerns – Lack of sleep, especially because of sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea, leads to the risk of developing other life-threatening chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, and obesity. One study, showed that middle-to-older aged people who regularly got fewer than six hours of sleep had a substantially higher risk of stroke than those who received a regular eight hours of sleep. Other research suggests that on average, individuals who sleep shorter tend to die younger. Furthermore, men who sleep for less than six hours a night are four times more likely to die over a 14-year-period.
- Lack of Sex Drive – A lack of sex drive is a common symptom for individuals suffering from sleep deprivation and sleep disorders. Moodiness, irritability, exhaustion, and stress are just some of the reasons associated with lack of sleep that impact the male and female libido. For men suffering from sleep apnea, one study suggests that their condition lowers testosterone levels causing a lack in sex drive. In this study, almost half of the men suffering from sleep apnea secreted lower levels of testosterone during the night.
- Memory Loss – Sleep revitalizes the areas of your brain that store memories and are responsible for critical thinking and learning. When you are sleep deprived your brain’s reactions become sluggish causing impairment in the cognitive processes responsible for attention, alertness, reasoning, concentration, and problem solving. Without these vital tools your brain isn’t able to store new memories. Memory loss can lead to decline in work performance and impact relationships with coworkers and family members, which may lead to stress and depression.
- Depression – Sleep drastically affects an individual’s overall happiness. A lack of sleep causes a person to feel grumpy or irritable, which reflects negatively on their relationships with loved ones and casts an unbecoming light in the work place. Serious sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia are more susceptible to developing symptoms of depression. The conditions of sleep deprivation and depression amplify each other, with sleep loss exacerbating the symptoms of depression and vice versa. Thankfully, there are multiple treatment options available to deal with these symptoms.
- Weight Gain – Research suggests that a lack of sleep is related to an increase in appetite and a stronger likelihood of developing obesity. It is speculated that sleep deprivation stimulates the appetite, causing stronger cravings for fatty foods that are high in carbohydrates. As proper sleep is necessary in healthy living, it should be considered an important factor when evaluating weight.
- Skin Aging – When your body is sleep deprived your brain releases the stress hormone cortisol which breaks down skin collagen. This causes fine lines, and dark circles to appear under the eyes. A lack of sleep also roadblocks the triggering of human growth hormones which aid in the development of muscle mass, bones, and healthy skin. Human growth hormones are released during our sleep to repair our bodies’ from everyday wear and tear.