We’re pretty sure you don’t need us to tell you about the causes of sleep deprivation. Not getting enough sleep is a prevalent, nationwide problem. Everyone has felt sleep-deprived at one point, and 1 in 5 adults regularly does not receive enough sleep1.
But what are the real effects, to your body and mind, of not getting the recommended amount of sleep? You may be tempted to brush off a lack of sleep, thinking that it’s nothing a cup of coffee won’t cure. But the effects of sleep deprivation are nothing to yawn at.
Consequences of Not Getting Enough Sleep
There are many causes of sleep deprivation, but the negative effects are across the board.
Short-Term Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Whether it is staying up a bit late or getting up too early, a few missing hours of sleep can have a strong effect on your health. Some of the short-term effects include:
- Mood problems: Irritability, anxiety, lack of motivation, or depression
- Lack of energy
- Lack of concentration
- Longer reaction times
- Poor decision-making
- Impulse to overeat
In fact, the effect of sleep deprivation on mental and physical performance is so pronounced that repeated studies have shown that being sleep-deprived is just as bad as being drunk.
Long-Term Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation can cause or exacerbate physical or mental health conditions. Long-term sleep deprivation puts you at increased risk of:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attacks
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Memory Loss
- Suppressed Immune Response
- Brain damage
- Death, indirectly
Wait, hold on–does that mean that not sleeping enough can actually kill you? The short answer is yes–in very, very severe situations (such as the instance of the World Cup fan who died after staying up several nights in a row).
However, sleep deprivation has also been found to increase mortality in general. A group of 3 studies conducted in 2002-2004 with large populations of people found that people who slept 5 or fewer hours per day (versus a baseline of seven) faced a 15% higher mortality rate from all causes. If anything, that should be convincing evidence of the toll that sleep deprivation takes on the body.
Reasons for Insufficient Sleep
Unfortunately, sleep-deprivation can also be self-imposed. Some people stay up late on purpose because they want to get more work done, spend time on electronics, use coffee as a crutch, or don’t recognize the importance of sleep. Don’t let this be you! Avoid the poor effects of sleep by checking these recommended sleep guides, and setting a regular sleep schedule to make sure you get the hours you need.
Do you get enough sleep, or do you struggle to get your 7-8 hours/night or feel excessively sleepy during the day even when you get enough sleep?
Other posts you may find interesting:
- Sleep Problems Lead to Drug and Alcohol Abuse
- Men and Sleep: Top 4 Facts
- Myths About Sleep
- Hypersomnia: Constant Sleepiness
- The Deadly Health Consequences of Sleep Apnea