Are you ignoring what happens when you are sleep deprived? Are you sleepwalking into a health disaster? I often hear people say that they don’t need 7-9 hours sleep.
We hear it on the news too. Some of us will remember the claims that Margaret Thatcher only had 4 hours of sleep per night. And if you tune in to YouTube you will hear about ‘the hustle’! This appears to be a competition in who can be most successful on the least sleep.
We live in a society which is telling us to work longer hours, cram more into life and sleep as little as possible.
But what is the truth? What happens when you are sleep deprived?
I have broken down what happens when you are sleep deprived into two sections. The effects in the short and long-term.
What happens when you are sleep deprived in the short-term?
Your memory malfunctions
When you are asleep, your brain does all it’s filing and sorting of your experiences during the day. It forms new neural connections which help you process information. When you are sleep deprived your brain doesn’t have time to do this. As a result, you reduce your short and long-term memory function.
Your concentration and thinking get foggy
You will have noticed that when you are sleep deprived, you are less likely to be able to solve problems. You will also be less creative. This can contribute to stress as you struggle to solve your daily list of challenges.
You will be moodier
I am sure you have noticed how short your fuse becomes when you haven’t had enough sleep. You might have observed that you are more inclined to emotional outbursts too. Even little things can feel unmanageable when you are sleep deprived.
You will be more accident prone
We have all seen the big warning signs on the motorway telling us to take a break. Even the government has realised that sleep deprivation and tiredness cause accidents. You may have noticed yourself that when you are sleep deprived, you are more likely to drop and spill things. If you are doing some kind of manual work or a lot of driving for a living getting enough sleep is even more vital.
You will be off balance
And I mean, in your body! When you are sleep deprived, your coordination and balance take a knock. This makes you more likely to fall or have other accidents.
What happens when you are sleep deprived in the long-term?
Your blood pressure will increase
When you are sleep deprived you are much more likely to have high blood pressure. This increases your chance of other health conditions like stroke and heart attack.
You increase your risk of diabetes
When you are sleep deprived, it affects your production of insulin. This is the hormone which lowers your blood-sugar. If you don’t have enough insulin, you have too much blood-sugar and this can lead to type 2 diabetes.
You will gain weight
Have you noticed the carbohydrate cravings which appear after a poor night’s sleep? When you are sleep deprived the chemicals which tell you when you are hungry and full go out of balance. You are more likely to overindulge and eat more unhealthy foods when you are sleep deprived.
You increase your risk of heart disease
As I have already mentioned, sleep deprivation increases blood pressure. This contributes to heart disease. Sleep deprivation also increases chemicals in your blood linked to inflammation. Inflammation is also a contributory factor in heart disease. So, if you are sleep deprived, your risk of heart disease increases.
Your sex drive will be low
Sleep deprivation reduces your libido. I am sure we have all experienced issues with getting in the mood when we haven’t had enough sleep. Sleep deprivation in men also reduces testosterone levels which makes things even worse.
You are more likely to develop depression and anxiety
As I mentioned above, short-term sleep deprivation makes us moody and emotional. But chronic, sleep deprivation can cause depression. Before my diagnosis of depression in March 2015, I had been sleeping about 3-5 hours per night for at least 3 months. Sadly, lack of sleep causes depression and depression can affect our ability to sleep. Sometimes it may be difficult to know which came first.
What can you do when you are sleep deprived?
As you can see, what happens when you are sleep deprived affects your health in the short and long-term. The key thing is that most of us need 7-9 hours of sleep. If you are not getting that, it will have an impact on your health. But don’t worry, all is not lost. In my previous blog, I shared ’10 Top Tips to Sleep Better so You Can Feel Less Stressed’. You will find something you can change to improve your sleep in that blog. And, if you still cannot sleep, please get in touch. I have worked with many clients to improve their sleep and can probably help you.