Alaska Sleep Education Center

What Happens When You Get Too Little Sleep

Posted by Paisley Hansen on Jul 2, 2021 4:01:00 AM

Portrait upset angry young man screaming at alarm clock isolated on gray wall background. Employee running late. Time management concept

If you've ever spent a restless night flipping around in bed, you already know how weary, grumpy, and out of sorts you'll feel the next day. However, not getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night does more than make you sluggish and irritable. Sleep deprivation has long-term consequences. It depletes your mental capacities and jeopardizes your physical health. Sleep deprivation has been related to a variety of health issues, ranging from weight gain to a compromised immune system. Continue reading to learn more about the causes of sleep deprivation and how it affects various body processes and systems.


1. Causes of Sleep Deprivation

Boiled down, sleep deprivation is defined as a loss of sleep or a reduction in the quality of sleep over time. Regularly getting less than 7 hours of sleep can have long-term health repercussions that affect the entire body. An underlying sleep issue could also be to blame and can make it difficult to learn how to work on yourself. Your body, like oxygen and food, requires sleep to function properly. Your body recovers and restores its chemical balance as you sleep. Your brain helps you remember things by forming new mental connections. Your brain and body processes will not function properly if you don't get enough sleep. It can also have a significant negative impact on your quality of life. Some studies have indicated that sleeping too little at night increased the risk of dying young. Sleep deprivation manifests itself in extreme drowsiness, weariness during the day, irritation, and frequent yawning.

Caffeine and other stimulants are insufficient to overcome your body's urgent desire for sleep. Indeed, these can exacerbate sleep deprivation by making it more difficult to fall asleep at night. This, in turn, may lead to nightly insomnia followed by caffeine usage throughout the day to counteract the weariness brought on by the lack of sleep.

Chronic sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your body's internal systems, resulting in more than simply the above-mentioned indications and symptoms.


2. Compromised Immune System

Your immune system creates protective, infection-fighting chemicals such as antibodies and cytokines while you sleep. These compounds are used to fight foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses. Certain cytokines also aid sleep by increasing the effectiveness with which your immune system defends your body against sickness. Sleep deprivation hinders your immune system's ability to build up its defenses. If you get too little sleep, your body may be unable to fight against intruders, and recovering from diseases may take longer. Long-term sleep deprivation also raises your chances of developing chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.


3. Affects Your Central Nervous System

Your central nervous system is your body's principal information highway. Sleep is crucial for your body to function correctly, but severe insomnia can cause disruptions in the way your body sends and processes information.

Pathways established between nerve cells (neurons) in your brain during sleep help you recall new information. Sleep deprivation exhausts your brain, making it unable to perform its functions effectively. It may also be more difficult for you to concentrate or learn new information. Your body's signals may also be delayed, reducing your coordination and raising your chances of an accident. Sleep deprivation has a severe impact on your mental and emotional faculties. You can become irritable or prone to mood changes. It can also stifle creativity and decision-making processes. If you don't get enough sleep, you can start having hallucinations, which are when you see or hear things that aren't really there. In persons with a bipolar mood disorder, a lack of sleep can also provoke mania. Other psychological dangers include anxiety, impulsive behavior, depression, suicidal ideation, and paranoia.

It's also possible that you'll have a microsleep during the day. During these instances, you will unconsciously fall asleep for a few seconds to several minutes. If you're driving, microsleep is out of your control and can be exceedingly dangerous. If you work with heavy machinery and have a microsleep episode, you may cause serious injury to yourself or others.


4. Impacts the Digestive System

Sleep deprivation, in addition to eating too much and not exercising, is a risk factor for being overweight or obese. Sleep impacts the levels of two hormones that influence hunger and fullness, leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is a hormone that signals your brain when you've had enough to eat. When you don't get enough sleep, your brain produces less leptin and more ghrelin, an appetite stimulator. The fluctuation of these hormones could explain late-night munching or why someone would overeat. You may be too fatigued to exercise due to a lack of sleep. Reduced physical activity might lead to weight gain over time since you aren't burning enough calories or building muscle mass.

When you don't get enough sleep, your body releases less insulin after you eat. Insulin is a hormone that aids in the reduction of blood sugar (glucose) levels. Sleep deprivation also reduces the body's glucose tolerance and is linked to insulin resistance. Diabetes mellitus and obesity can result from these changes.


5. Hurts Your Respiration System

The respiratory system and sleep have a symbiotic relationship. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a nightly breathing disorder that can disrupt your sleep and reduce the quality of your sleep. Sleep loss can result from waking up throughout the night, making you more susceptible to respiratory illnesses like the common cold and flu. Existing respiratory disorders, such as chronic lung disease might be exacerbated by sleep loss.


6. Preventing Sleep Deprivation

Making sure you get enough sleep is the greatest method to avoid sleep deprivation. Follow the recommendations for your age group, which for most adults ages 18 to 64 is 7 to 9 hours. There are a few other things you may do to get back on track with a healthy sleep schedule. Try decreasing the number of naps taken during the day (or avoiding them altogether). Avoid caffeine after noon, or at least a few hours before bedtime, and go to bed at the same time every night. Set your alarm and get up every morning at the same time. This can help reset and regulate your internal clock. It might be difficult but keep your waking and sleeping schedule the same on weekends. 

Spending an hour before bedtime doing something soothing like reading, meditating, or taking a bath can help wind you down and make it easier to fall asleep.  Try not to eat heavy meals right before bed, as the digestion process can disturb your sleep cycle. Likewise, avoid the use of electronic devices immediately before bedtime. This stimulates your brain, which is the last thing you want when trying to fall asleep. Limit alcohol intake and get regular exercise during the day (not right before bed). lowering alcohol.

Getting an adequate amount of sleep is essential to good health. Knowing what sleep deprivation can do to you will help you get on track, and a good night's sleep will follow.  

All things considered, there is a pandemic of sleeplessness in America. Many people suffer from various sleeping disorders that affect their quality of life and well-being. 

Call Alaska Sleep Clinic today to speak with one of our board-certified sleep specialists and the quality AND quantity of sleep you need


Topics: sleep deprivation, sleep habits, sleep loss

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