Lack of sleep can have serious impacts on our well-being, both in the short and long term. Living in a society where there is just too much work to be done, children to look after, parties to attend, movies to watch and so on, it seems that inadequate sleep is a common problem.
When we do not get enough sleep, the short term effects are immediately obvious. For one, we become groggy and unable to focus on our tasks and responsibilities. We also can be grumpy and easily irritated by even the smallest nuances. These effects by themselves are dangerous and scary, but the long term effects of sleep deprivation on our body, mind, and overall health are much more concerning.
Sleep Deprivation and Obesity
There have been a number of studies conducted on the links between sleep deprivation and weight gain. There is a strong connection between how much sleep we get and how much weight we gain for the following reasons:
- Hunger – When you are tired, you tend to eat more because the body wants to compensate for the energy used whilst staying up all night.
- Food choices – Sleep-deprived people tend to go for foods which are high in calorie, like processed and junk foods.
- Energy – If you are tired then you’re less likely to have the energy to exercise and burn off all the fat that you have eaten.
All of the above points can contribute to gradual weight gain over a period of time.
Sleep Deprivation and Cardiovascular Diseases
Long term sleep deprivation is also known to be linked with the development of heart and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. An article conducted on how sleep deprivation increases stroke and heart disease, showed that people who slept less than six hours a night are 50% more prone to developing and dying of heart disease, while 15% are prone to strokes. This is mainly attributed to the increased production of chemicals and hormones in our body.
Sleep and Psychiatric Problems
Lack of sleep is known to affect a person’s mental wellness. It is a fact that people who sleep less tend to feel agitated and emotional which can cause a change in their behaviour and how they interact with other people.
Generally there are three main types of erratic psychiatric problems that sleep deprived people can potentially face:
- Anxiety Problems
- Drug and alcohol abuse
One night of lack of sleep can be associated with mood swings and changes, but in long term sleep deprivation, this can result in long term mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
In summary, lack of sleep can have a very negative effect on our health – both our body and mind. The short term effects of sleep deprivation may be something that can be corrected right away. However the long term effects can be more difficult and challenging to treat.