August 16, 2022 5 min read

8 PROBLEMS CAUSED BY SLEEP DEPRIVATION

Most people don't get enough quality sleep, affecting their well-being, health, and ability to do everyday activities. The correct amount of sleep can vary from person to person, but experts suggest that adults should get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Also, they estimate that 1 in 3 adults doesn’t get enough sleep.

Occasional sleep interruptions can be a nuisance, while an ongoing lack of quality sleep can drain someone’s mental abilities, lower their quality of life, and put their physical health at risk. Studies have linked lack of quality sleep to several health problems such as weakened immune systems and weight gain. This read looks at sleep deprivation, treatment, and prevention measures. Keep reading;

Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is when you don’t get enough sleep to meet the body's needs. It can lead to long-term and serious health problems. Some of the most serious potential problems associated with chronic sleep deprivation include heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, or stroke. Other potential problems include low sex drive, depression, weakened immune system, and obesity.

Skin Aging

Chronic sleep deprivation can even interfere with one’s appearance. Over time it can lead to premature wrinkles, fine lines, and dark circles under your eyes. Redwine & Hauger (2000) showed a link between lack of sleep and increased stress hormone cortisol in the body. Cortisol can break down collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic. As a result, a lack of sleep could mean more wrinkles. Sleep loss also makes the body release too little human growth hormone. When young, human growth hormone promotes growth. It helps increase muscle mass, thicken skin, and strengthen bones as we age. The growth hormone is also released during sleep to promote normal tissue repair.

Sleepiness Causes Depression and Anxiety

Over time, inadequate sleep and sleep disorders can contribute to the symptoms of depression. In a 2005 American sleep poll, people diagnosed with depression or anxiety were more likely to sleep less than six hours. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder linked to depression.

According to Riemann & Wulff (2020), people with insomnia are more likely to develop depression than those without. Insomnia is considered one of the first symptoms of depression. On the contrary, treating sleep disorder problems can help depression and its symptoms and vice versa.

Inadequate Sleep Kills Sex Drive

According to sleep experts, sleep-deprived men and women report lower libidos and less interest in sex. Sleepiness, depleted energy, and increased energy may be largely to blame. Sleep apnea in men is a respiratory problem that interrupts sleep. Kim & Cho (2019) suggested that men with sleep apnea also experience low testosterone levels. According to the study, nearly half of the men who suffered from severe sleep apnea also secreted abnormally low testosterone levels during the night.

Psychiatric Disorders

An extreme and long-term lack of sleep may cause several psychiatric disturbances. Some individuals suffering from extended periods of sleep deprivation have experienced disorientation, paranoia, and hallucinations. These types of symptoms can sometimes be confused or associated with schizophrenia.

Memory Loss

Scientists suggest that sleep is important for giving the brain time to organize itself and, specifically, to commit information from the short-term memory to the long-term memory. As a result, adequate sleep is crucial for memory recall. Studies show improvement in memory loss after just one night of restful sleep.

Weight Gain & Obesity

The effects of continual lack of sleep include rapid weight gain. Lack of sleep is also related to higher amounts of cortisol, a stress hormone, thus resulting in anxiety, stress, and frustration, which often contribute to emotional eating and poor nutritional habits. Another hormone, called ghrelin, is produced in the stomach and is associated with long-term sleep deprivation. An excess of ghrelin can make people feel hungrier.

Sleep deprivation also causes tiredness, leading to unhealthy cravings and overindulgence, accompanied by decreased stamina and physical activity. Patel (2008) showed that people who feel unrested are more likely to choose foods rich in carbohydrates and sugar. Therefore, obesity and weight gain are known risk factors for insomniacs.

Hypertension

Lack of sleep has been linked to hypertension by experts. Since sleep helps the body regulate hormones that cause stress, lack of rest can amplify the effects of stress. Long-term sleep deprivation causes increased blood pressure, higher heart rate, and inflammation. All of which puts unnecessary strain on your heart.

Sleep deficiency also causes a greater instance of fatal cardiovascular problems, such as heart attacks and stroke. Doctors and researchers believe this is because the lack of sleep may disrupt the parts of the brain which control the circulatory system or cause inflammation that makes the development of a blood clot more likely.

Fertility Issues

Sleep disorders can lower libido and stamina and have a devastating impact on anyone trying to conceive, both men and women. The same part of the brain that controls circadian rhythms also regulates the release of reproductive hormones. Regularly getting fewer than 7 hours of sleep can lower testosterone levels and the hormones that trigger ovulation, making conception even more difficult.

Conclusion

It's difficult to get enough sleep in society today as people have occupied themselves so much, and sleep is at the bottom of the priority list. However, sleep does so much more than keep the mind sharp. Long-term sleep deprivation can negatively affect an individual’s emotional state and health. Sleep deprivation can even cause death indirectly by increasing the chances of dying from other causes. For instance, when the body is tired when driving, the possibilities of getting involved in a road accident are much higher than when the body is relaxed or even getting injured when working or just going about a daily routine. Over time, sleep deprivation can also increase the risk of chronic health conditions. It's crucial to have the right schedule for enough rest to meet your sleep needs. That means figuring out how many hours of sleep you need each night and the quality of your sleep. If you're having trouble sleeping, talk to a doctor to treat the root causes rather than the symptoms.

References

Kim, S. D., & Cho, K. S. (2019). Obstructive Sleep Apnea And Testosterone Deficiency. The World Journal Of Men's Health, 37(1), 12-18.

Patel, S. R., & Hu, F. B. (2008). Short Sleep Duration And Weight Gain: A Systematic Review. Obesity, 16(3), 643-653.

Redwine, L., Hauger, R. L., Gillin, J. C., & Irwin, M. (2000). Sleep And Sleep Deprivation Effects On Interleukin-6, Growth Hormone, Cortisol, And Melatonin Levels In Humans. The Journal Of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 85(10), 3597-3603.

Riemann, D., Krone, L. B., Wulff, K., & Nissen, C. (2020). Sleep, Insomnia, And Depression. Neuropsychopharmacology, 45(1), 74-89.