We have all experienced a terrible night’s sleep at one point in our lives, whether from an illness, stress or even our sweet little offspring waking us repeatedly. Those one or two nights don’t necessarily mean your health should be affected, other than feeling a little foggy or rundown for the day. However, if lack of sleep is an ongoing issue for you, it is very important you work to correct whatever the underlying issue may be. Sleep deprivation can seriously affect your overall health and wellbeing in various ways. You may be surprised to learn about exactly how your poor sleep patterns can change your health status.
1. Depression and Anxiety
Since sleep is our way of recharging one of our most vital organs, the brain, it is only natural that we expect to experience ill effects in our brain when we don’t get enough sleep. Depression and anxiety are far more common in those who fail to get about six hours of sleep per night on a regular basis. The brain doesn’t have enough time to re-energize and recharge if you are lacking sleep and you will be more susceptible to depression and anxiety plus other mood disorders as well. If you are more susceptible to disorders such as bipolar disorder, you may experience more episodes of mania or depression due to sleep deprivation.
2. Weight Gain
You may not think that gaining weight and sleep deprivation can possibly be linked. In fact, you may be thinking the opposite since you are completely stationary while sleeping. However, those who do not get a proper amount of sleep on average, consume about 300 more calories per day than people who get the right amount. These extra calories add up, especially if you are inactive or have little activity in your lifestyle. Slowly, you may notice weight gain as you continue to miss out on your sleep.
3. Developing Type 2 Diabetes
The link between Type 2 Diabetes and sleep deprivation is being studied by many professionals in the field of sleep studies and overall health. One connection is that your body creates more cortisol when it is in a tired, exhausted state which fights the insulin your body creates and doesn’t allow it to properly do its job. This results in a higher blood sugar level; a pre-cursor to diabetes. If your lack of sleep is prolonged, this consistently high level of blood sugar could result in a Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis.
4. High Blood Pressure
Every time you visit your family doctor, you will likely have your blood pressure taken as a measure of overall good health. In some cases, you may be shocked to learn that your blood pressure is higher than it should be and be stumped as to why that might be the case. If you are experiencing chronic lack of sleep or poor sleep quality over a long period of time, there is a link between higher blood pressure and sleeplessness.
Hypertension can lead to more serious issues such as stroke, heart attack, or kidney and heart failure. You may not even realize your blood pressure is elevated so it is important to see your doctor if you are experiencing prolonged sleep issues.
5. Cardiovascular Disease
If you are a short sleeper (less than six hours a night) then you are putting yourself at risk for developing heart disease in comparison to those who get adequate sleep each night. The lack of sleep your body experiences results in chemicals and hormones being produced within your body which could encourage the development of cardiovascular disease and stroke. This is especially true for anyone who has been experiencing poor sleep for long periods, like years. It is not definite that you will get heart disease from sleep deprivation, but your risk is much higher than the average person.
6. Advanced Aging
When you don’t sleep properly for just one or two nights, you really feel it the next day with heavy limbs, sleepy eyes and a real lack of energy. If you are chronically missing out on Z’s, you may not notice it as much anymore as it becomes your new normal. However, lack of sleep can lead to you aging faster than you usually would. Your skin becomes more wrinkled, you get puffy, red eyes or even have dark circles beneath your eyes. These all give the appearance of advanced progression of aging. Luckily, restoring your body with proper sleep can help reverse these effects.
7. Lowered Sex Drive (If any at all!)
Sleep deprivation can rob you of intimate time with your partner, believe it or not. When you are not getting the right amount of sleep consistently over time, your body will be lacking energy, feel fatigued and you will have much less focus and concentration. The last thing you will feel like doing is having sex.
Your sex life can also be affected if you choose to sleep in a different bed than your partner as not to disturb them with your lack of sleep or getting out of bed at odd hours of the night. Not being in the same bed will obviously affect the amount of sex you and your partner have.
Overall, you can work to correct many of these issues if you attempt to address whatever the cause of your sleep deprivation might be. It is important that you do so, though, or your overall health can be adversely affected. In many cases, these effects are interconnected and can trigger each other, such as lowered sex drive and lack of sex leading to a feeling of depression and low self-esteem.
If you are experiencing prolonged periods of insomnia, frequent night waking (without cause such as a new baby or illness), or any of the outlined symptoms, you should see your family physician to get a health check up. Your doctor can help you determine the best course of action to get you back on track to better, more restorative sleep and better overall health.
Jamie is a mother to 8 children and an avid cook. She enjoys theater from both the audience as well as being on stage. She has been writing stories ever since she could put pen to paper and still enjoys doing so today. Her passion for food has her often creating new recipes to try on her family, who are always happy to sample. Jamie graduated with a diploma in Social Services and has worked with children for most of her life. She now writes for Sleepify and help them in their content promotions.