5 side effects of sleep deprivation
Sleep is a vital and fundamental biological process that contributes to maintaining a healthy body and lifestyle. However, sleep often takes a backseat in today’s hustle and bustle, which can lead to several side effects that affect physical, mental, and emotional health. Let’s look at some of these side effects and their significant role in leading a healthy lifestyle. Always consult a doctor about any severe side effects of sleep deprivation.
Here are a few side effects of sleep deprivation:
- Cognitive impairment
There is plenty of research suggesting a link between cognitive health and sleep. Studies suggest that short-term cognitive impacts on sleep include feeling groggy, fatigued, and drowsy. But other side effects are also studied, like how poor sleep can reduce a person’s attention span, affecting their processing and learning abilities. Slowed-down thinking and reaction time are also associated with a lack of sleep.Some long-term side effects of poor sleep are cognitive decline, memory issues, and dementia. REM sleep is crucial for a well-rested night because REM sleep is believed to help boost procedural memory in the brain. This means that it can help recall the sequence of steps in general. These sequences help keep the memory of things and daily life intact. Even studies suggest that those who cannot get proper sleep can also form false memories that can be dangerous.
- Mental and emotional disturbance
It seems evident that poor sleep can lead to emotional disturbance in the smallest forms, like feeling irritated or frustrated at the smallest things, mood swings, and increased sensitivity to stressors. In fact, chronic sleep deprivation is also linked with higher rates of depression, anxiety, emotional instability, bipolar disorder, and other similar conditions.There are two stages of brain activity during sleep. One is the NREM, which is non-rapid eye movement, the stage where brain activity slows down. However, there are quick bursts of energy passing through in this stage. The second one is the REM sleep cycle, in which brain activity picks up rapidly and dreaming is intense. Both of these stages play a crucial role in mental health, and studies suggest that REM sleep facilitates the brain’s processing of emotional information. Remembering thoughts and memories and associating a positive emotional connection to events are influenced a lot by this sleep stage.
- Weakened immune system
Studies suggest that those who have not slept properly for too long are more susceptible to falling ill when exposed to a virus that attacks the healthy cells in the body. This sleep determines susceptibility to falling ill and how long the recovery time will be.
The presence of proteins called cytokines decreases when there is a lack of sleep. These are the proteins released by the immune system that help promote sleep. But when there is an infection or the body goes through stress, the immune system needs increased production of these proteins to help fight the illness. And when sleep is not adequate, the whole system is compromised. The optimal amount of sleep for adults to keep the immune system healthy and running is seven to nine hours each night. Teenagers need around ten hours of sleep each night, and younger kids need more than ten hours. Also, understand that sleeping more than the required amount is unhealthy. If an adult needs ten hours or more of sleep in a day, some underlying condition is likely making them tired and exhausted. This also needs to be diagnosed by a professional.
Cardiovascular health complications
There is growing research to suggest a link between heart health and sleep. These studies suggest poor sleep can increase the risk of many illnesses, like high blood pressure and diabetes. Due to inadequate sleep, lifestyle choices, and food choices, added stress could trigger cardiovascular diseases in individuals.
A condition called hypersomnia, which is also called daytime sleepiness, also increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It is also noted that daytime sleepiness is a symptom of many sleep disorders and should be diagnosed and treated immediately. Sleep deprivation is also linked with increased inflammation in the body. This means that the inflammation also affects blood vessels and the heart organ, increasing the risk of potential heart diseases that can even sometimes be fatal to individuals.
Increased risk of accidents
According to some statistics, daytime sleepiness, a sleep disorder caused by inefficient and inadequate sleep, affects nearly 25 percent of the country’s population. Data suggests that close to seventy percent of employees who are overly sleepy during the day due to insufficient sleep are at higher risk of being involved in a workplace accident. Workers or employees who have insomnia are also likely to have work-related accidents.
Due to insufficient sleep, each individual’s reaction time is slow, leading to errors in judgment and slow reflexes. It is also understood that people are more likely to misjudge their abilities and, hence, make unwise decisions that can put them in dangerous situations. In some industries, lack of sleep is a safety issue that needs immediate attention. Some industries affected by their workers’ lack of sleep include pilots, truck drivers, health professionals, and even shift workers.
Speak to your doctor about any difficulties you may face getting good sleep, as they may point to some underlying health condition that needs immediate attention. Also, focus on healthy lifestyle choices like nutritional food, exercising daily, and living in a clean environment.