You probably have noticed that you don’t feel like yourself the next day if you miss a few hours of sleep. All day long, it’s like you can’t wait to get home and go to bed early so you can wake up the next day feeling refreshed. But how about if you’re repeatedly not sleeping well? Unfortunately, not getting enough sleep can result in harmful effects. Keep reading to find out what they are.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
How much sleep each person needs is not a one-size-fits-all answer. Instead, it depends. According to the National Sleep Foundation, an adult that’s 18 or older should be getting a minimum of seven hours of sleep.
- 65 years and older: 7-8 hours
- 26 to 64 years old: 7-9 hours
- 18 to 25 years old: 7-9 hours
- 14 to 17 years old: 8-10 hours
- 6 to 13 years old: 9-11 hours
- 3 to 5 years old: 10-13 hours
- 1 to 2 years old: 11-14 hours
- 4 to 11 months old: 12-15 hours
- Under 4 months old: 14-17 hours
What Can You Do If You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?
If you don’t get enough sleep, there are many sleep strategies you can try. If you find yourself to be hot at night, you could invest in a cooling mattress. You can also try limiting caffeine, getting some exercise during the day and avoiding drinking liquids a couple of hours before bedtime. There are also many other things you an do that may be helpful for going to sleep and staying asleep.
Harmful Effects of Not Getting Enough Sleep
Now that you know the minimum amount of sleep you should be getting, here are the harmful effects of not getting enough sleep.
Not Getting Enough Sleep Can Cause Death
As scary as it sounds, studies have shown that people who repeatedly do not get enough sleep on a regular basis have a higher risk rate for death than those who get enough sleep. Most often, a lack of sleep over time can cause the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Lack of Sleep Can Cause Accidents
Unfortunately, there are studies that show that driving in a state of fatigue caused by lack of sleep poses as much risk as driving while intoxicated. Either way, your reaction time is delayed. But accidents don’t only happen behind the wheel. They also can occur at work or at home.
Sleep Deprivation Can Result in Health Issues
Over time, a lack of sleep can increase risk for developing health issues, such as chronic diseases. Diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, heart attack or heart failure can occur due sleep deprivation.
A Lack of Sleep Causes Depression
If you don’t sleep well and you often feel depressed, there may be a link. Insomnia and depression are often related. For example, someone who is depressed may have a difficult time falling asleep or may wake up during the night and not be able to fall back asleep.
Sleep Can Impair Cognitive Processes
If you’ve ever felt like you can’t think clearly after a lack of sleep, you’re not just imagining it. Getting enough sleep is vital for the cognitive processes we use to learn. For example, both your sense of alertness and your attention span decrease when you are sleepy. Being less alert and not being able to hold your attention can make it difficult to reason and problem solve.
Lack of Sleep Can Impair Judgment
A lack of sleep can also wreak havoc on your judgment. It can make it hard to make quick decisions or react fast enough in situations that may be threatening. The scary part is that you may not even realize that your judgement is impaired.
Weight Gain Can Occur If You Repeatedly Don’t Get Sleep
If you’ve been experiencing a lack of sleep and you’ve also been gaining weight, there may be a link between the two. Unfortunately, studies show that people who get less than seven hours of sleep per night are more likely to experience weight gain and obesity. Not getting enough sleep can result in a decrease of appetite-suppressing hormone leptin, which can cause you to overeat.
Missing Sleep Can Affect Your Libido
A lack of sleep can also cause your libido to suffer. Think about it. Sleeping less than you need to can lead to less energy overall. And less energy doesn’t translate well when it comes to your libido — or your relationship.
Sleep disorders require specialized medical attention.
Today, sleep disorders are increasingly recognized as having serious health consequences. Yet, there is also an increase in the number of sleep-disorder cases that general physicians — well-meaning and devoted to their patients — attempt to evaluate and treat on their own.
The fact is, there are good reasons why sleep medicine is classified as a distinct specialty and why your sleep difficulties should be managed by a physician specializing in sleep medicine.
With more than 84 different sleep disorders, reaching an accurate diagnosis can be challenging without a sleep physician’s additional training and expertise.
In addition, symptoms can overlap, as can underlying causes and contributing factors. Without the informed care of a specialist, treatment can be inappropriate, ineffective or even nonexistent. As an example, people who seek medical care for sleep apnea usually go without treatment for an average of seven years!
Trust your sleep problems to a sleep expert.
At Alaska Sleep Clinic, our staff has the training, skill and expertise necessary to diagnose and treat your sleep disorder. With training and seasoned know-how, our staff can handle the subtle science of diagnosis and treatment of these complex, and sometimes elusive problems. Our compassion and dedication facilitate the continuity and quality of care that you deserve and the restful, restorative sleep you need.