The long-term effects of sleep deprivation are real and very dangerous, so rest should always be a priority. Sleep deprivation limits mental abilities and puts physical health at real risk. From weight gain to a weakened immune system, science has linked lack of sleep to a number of health problems.
Sleep deprivation is caused by persistent sleep deprivation or decreased quality of sleep. Getting less than 7 hours of sleep regularly can have health consequences that affect your entire body. During sleep, your body repairs itself and restores its chemical balance and the brain forms new thought connections and aids in memory retention.
The side effects to the body from chronic sleep deprivation are devastating.
Central nervous system
Your central nervous system is your body’s main information highway. Sleep is necessary for this to function properly, but chronic insomnia can alter the way the body normally sends and processes information.
During sleep, pathways form between neurons in the brain that help remember what has been learned. Insomnia exhausts your brain, so it is unable to perform its functions properly.
You may find it more difficult to focus or learn new things, compromising decision-making processes and creativity. In addition, it very negatively affects the emotional state, there is a pronounced tendency to mood swings.
During sleep, the immune system produces protective substances that fight infection, such as antibodies and cytokines that the body uses to fight off foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses.
Lack of sleep prevents the immune system from accumulating energy and increases the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
The connection between sleep and the respiratory system goes both ways. A nocturnal breathing disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can disrupt your sleep and reduce its quality.
These constant awakenings cause sleep deprivation and poor quality sleep and can worsen existing respiratory conditions, such as chronic lung disease.
Along with eating too much and not exercising, lack of sleep is another risk factor for overweight and obesity. Sleep affects the levels of two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, which control feelings of hunger and satiety.
Leptin tells the brain when the body is full. Without enough sleep, your brain depletes leptin and increases ghrelin, which is an appetite stimulant. The flow of these hormones may explain the nocturnal snacking or why one may eat at night.
Lack of sleep can also make you tired and difficult to exercise, and over time, less physical activity can lead to weight gain. It causes the body to release less insulin after eating, which helps lower blood sugar (glucose) levels.