What Happens If You Don’t Get Enough Sleep – 13 Alarming Effects On Your Life

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What happens if you don
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“I’ve got a dream that is worth more than my sleep.”

-eric thomas

“Hustlers don’t sleep, they nap.”

Hustle Culture And Sleep Deprivation

The quotes above don’t fall short in boosting motivation, but that’s not all you need. Hustle culture has become a norm these days, but its constant obsession over grind makes you question your basic needs, such as sleep.

So, you might find it helpful to know what happens if you don’t get enough sleep.

If you associate sleep with something extra, you may indeed lose yourself in the process. You can’t put today’s sleep requirements to discharge on the next day. Success requires hard work but not at the cost of your health.

Forbes’ article sheds light on ‘how the hustle culture isn’t an ideal way to live life’. The more you neglect your health in chasing life at the speed of 1.75x, the more you feel at the mercy of everything around you.

Productivity isn’t about checking the items on your to-do list but how well you feel after each day and how much you honor your needs.

Do You Get Enough Sleep?

When you take a whole night’s sleep, you give your body proper time to make all the necessary changes in your body. You become energized, and your body functions well. Whereas, when you don’t get enough sleep, you become prone to numerous diseases which stick to you throughout your life.

This mentality of giving zero priority to basic but essential needs like sleep amounts to poor sleep hygiene. And results? In your priority list, sleep comes at last and for a short period.

A cross-sectional study on 200 medical students showed that 31.5% of students faced abnormal sleep resulting in adverse health and poor academic results. 34.86% of students who had poor sleep routines had to go through depression and agitation later daily.

As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, one-third of adults in the US don’t get the amount of sleep they require.

How Long Should You Sleep?

A hand holding an alarm clock.
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Now, it would be worth knowing how much sleep you need. Ready? Here we go –

Everyone’s sleep needs vary. As you age, your sleep duration changes.

Newborn babies sleep the most, 14-17 hours a day, while kids need 11-14 hours of sleep.

Small school-going children aged 6-12 years need 9-12 hours, and teenagers require 8-10 hours to get rested.

Everyone’s sleeping habits differ when it comes to adults, but ideally, it should be between 7-8 hours.

Taking a nap is an alternate method to rest when needed, but it can’t replace hours of a good night’s peaceful sleep.

Whatever the method is, an average person needs one-third of their day for a good sleep. That is sufficient to see through the importance of getting plenty of shuteye each day.

However, if you feel stuck in your sleep cycle and can’t make it to the rem sleep or deep sleep, you might be dealing with sleep deprivation.

Understanding Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is a chronic condition where you find yourself unable to sleep for the required hours of sleep and consequently face its ill effects.

So, it can’t be avoided if you need the maximum productivity in your life and your work.

What Happens If You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

If you dream of a quality life, you must put yourself at rest or sleep. It’s contradictory to the popular belief that continuous grinding leads to the desired results, but it’s only a half-truth.

A good sleep, not just sleep, enriches your body and mind with desired elements like food gives you nutrition. If not fulfilled, it leads to severe damages to your entire system.

Some of the signs can be seen right after you miss a shuteye, while some show up slowly and become lifelong diseases.

Sleep affects your physical, mental, and emotional growth. Let’s look at each of them closely.

Physical Effects Of Sleep Deprivation

1. You feel tired all the time

A tired person in a yellow suit sitting on a white desk in a brown wordy background.
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Imagine filling each hour of your day with tasks to complete and giving as much time as possible to be so-called productive. In this process, you ignore your essentials, i.e., drinking enough water, eating correctly on time, and most importantly, sleeping.

Sleep is a charging system, and you exhaust your body to its fullest potential without wanting to give it fuel, aka sleep, and expect it to work at its best each day. Is it possible? You know the answer.

Your body needs rest each day, and the ideal amount of sleep is what you can give to ensure your physical health.

2. Impacts your immunity levels

Immunity and sleep go hand in hand. Better immunity ensures better sleep, and quality sleep boosts immunity. To ensure that your body’s ability to fight off diseases works at the maximum, you must look after your sleep patterns. Robbing yourself of regular sleep is enough to make you vulnerable to various ailments.

Nk cells are responsible for killing cancer cells. Studies have shown that lack of sleep has been the cause of reduction in natural killer cells up to 72% when sleep is restricted to only 4 hours for a night in participants. Too little sleep means a weakened immune system as well as inviting cancer.

Methodology and results summary revealed that you tend to be at increased risk of infections as the chances of getting infected become more than 50% when prolonged sleep deprivation produces fewer antibodies, studies have shown.

3. Poor sleep means poor metabolism

A study, among 2,003 men and women aged 45 to 84, conducted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) on an average of 6 years, proved that participants who had irregular sleep patterns were the ones who faced metabolic dysfunction. They even faced depression symptoms and problems like obstructive sleep apnea.

Metabolism is essential for our living as it provides energy from food and helps in managing waste. Proper sleep helps in the metabolic process, generating energy for the next day. If this process gets hampered, we feel dull. That’s why you need more sleep to work efficiently.

4. You allow yourself to become obese

As you’ve seen, acute sleep deprivation interferes with metabolism activity which is responsible for converting food to energy. Sleep deprivation affects this process, and your metabolism fails to work efficiently, which means your food turns to fat instead of turning into energy, and you gain weight.

Also, sleep restriction results in hormonal imbalance, and your body produces more ghrelin – a hormone that increases your appetite and less leptin – a hormone that makes you feel full at your sleeping time.

So you feel hungry, and you end up filling your stomach instead of hitting your bed. These night cravings result in weight gain.

Apart from that, how many of you exercise in the morning or anytime? I see very few hands. Don’t you think you’re adding calories to the body with late-night eating and almost no exercise? It’s clear how sleep directly affects weight gain.

5. Diabetes follows sleep deprivation

Diabetes is also related to sleep loss like many other severe diseases, namely coronary heart disease, obesity, and so on. The calorie intake of people increases, and their inability to make proper decisions urge them to opt for an unhealthy lifestyle that is directly linked to the risk of developing diabetes.

A meta-analysis of prospective studies showed that apart from being a genetic problem or emerging from obesity, diabetes is found in people with less than 5 or 6 hours of sleep. Also, it’s more visible in men than women.

Emotional Effects Of Sleep Deprivation

Good quality sleep ensures a quality life and emotional balance. How emotional growth gets hampered after a poor night’s sleep is explained by a sleep specialist Michael J. Breus, Ph.D. through the following points

6. Your emotions become overcharged

Did you upset your spouse over a minor issue or shout at your child when she asked you a question?

These issues and more can be a sign that your emotional health suffers. The reason can be your sleepless nights.

Sleep keeps a check on the amygdala, which controls our emotional reactions. Lacking sleep gives way to emotional outbursts resulting in overreacting to everyday situations, which you can handle adeptly when being well-rested.

The prefrontal cortex, which also controls emotions, gets disturbed too by the amygdala, and their equation gets unbalanced, causing you to act out impulsively.

Sleep is responsible for processing your emotional events into memories which happens at the last stage of sleep, and this process gets backseat when you start losing sleep or rest for fewer hours than needed.

7. You block positivity from your life

Every day you deal with different situations which require a great deal of emotional reactiveness. As humans, we hold negative feelings and react more towards them. We forget positive things because they don’t threaten our well-being.

A good night’s sleep is all you need to process these negative feelings and store them away somewhere in the form of memories.

When you decide to cut short your sleep hours, negativity follows you everywhere, and you become restless and find it hard to see positivity. That’s not in your favor, right?

8. It affects your relationship with your partner

You know precisely how much your emotional health is connected to your relationships.

A well-rested mind sees positivity all around as sleep does its job to balance all the emotions. When you become prone to sleep disorders, your unchecked emotions become hyperactive, and negativity overpowers you.

You react to small things and overlook what other people do for you. As a result, your relationships suffer.

Mental Effects Of Sleep Deprivation

Lack of sleep is directly linked to mental health issues. Sleep helps you and your mind wind down. Giving less priority to sleep means exposing the human brain to its worst.

When someone already deals with mental health issues, falling asleep can be difficult, and lost sleep worsens their psychological problems.

These are the issues that people with sleep disorders face throughout their lives:

9. Loss of sleep impacts mood

A study was conducted on twelve healthy youths (half of them were females) in which they’ve been kept sleep deprived for three days.

After just one night of missed sleep, everyone felt an intense increase in mood states. Both males and females had symptoms of agitation, but females reported them in higher degrees. Females noticed higher risks of depression and anxiety than their counterparts.

Word mood highlighted in a dim background.
By: Nick Fewings on Unsplash

10. Hampers decision making

Decisions in the workplace and life are taken with a balanced and calm mind that is impossible with no sleep, which facilitates better functioning of the mind.

Emotions go unchecked when you are sleep deprived which ultimately risks making decisions. You feel agitated and restless, which resultantly makes you frustrated and irritable.

11. Causes stress and anxiety

Primary stress is necessary to carry out day-to-day activities, but it becomes a problem when it interferes with health. When you prioritize other works oversleep, it increases your stress levels. And stress isn’t complimentary and can turn into a chronic disease resulting from less shuteye.

It works both ways. Research shows that chronic sleep deprivation can give rise to anxiety disorders. Also, sleep-deprived people are more likely to get anxiety disorders.

12. Sleep deprivation vs. depression

Depression is when nothing looks exciting, and you feel ill and sluggish from within. It can even lead to sleeping more.

People with sleep disorders are more receptive to depression as sleep rejuvenates your mind and clears all the emotional baggage. But depression can make you lose sleep, and the opposite is true as well. It becomes a cycle that often becomes intractable.

Lack of sleep interrupts this process, and you become stressed and continuous stress isn’t good for your mental wellness. These stressful situations can make you depressed, which releases less serotonin – a happiness hormone – which aids in inducing sleep.

The cycle goes like this. Less sleep then adds to your depression.

13. Affects academic performance

Twenty-one graduate students participated in a study for 30 days for their sleep monitoring and how it affects their academics. Irregular sleep habits and sleeping for fewer hours resulted in delayed reaction times and a greater risk for health-related issues.

Researchers concluded that chronic night waking worsened mental issues, which brought about tiredness and poor academic results.

Well, you must be aware now that you can evade all these problems which emerge from your very decision to quit sleep or reduce it. To do that, you should know about the sleep to-do list.

Healthy Sleep Routine – A checklist

Sleep without guilt

You heard it right. You need not feel guilty about getting the required sleep. It’s not just your right but a way of securing a quality lifestyle. Your mentality should change from ‘only hustle’ to a balanced life where work and sleep coexist.

Time blocking

Make sure you choose a dedicated time to sleep and wake up each day. Depending on your needs, you should give at least 7 hours of your day to your sleep or more.

Limit caffeine

Too much caffeine or related drugs can essentially cause you harm, and these aren’t designed to induce or facilitate sleep. Avoiding them a few hours before getting into bed can benefit you and your rest.

Blocking electronic devices

Gadgets emitting blue light signal you to be attentive when sleeping. Using them at night can force you to stay awake, and results would not be in your favor.

Listening can help

Instead of visualizing content at night or before sleeping, listening to podcasts or audiobooks can help you sleep fast.

A baby pink tulip with earphone plugged in.
By: Jonathan J. Castellon on Unsplash

Also, it’s said that learning something at night makes it easier to remember the information because the mind consolidates facts during sleep and makes them last in our memory. So listening to good quality stuff works two ways.

Signaling your mind to sleep

Sometimes it becomes harder to fall asleep due to our waking habits late at night. So a routine is necessary.

Similar to a morning routine in which you set up an alarm and sunlight alerting you of the day, you should have one for night consisting of a warm bath, a quiet dark room, or a bit of meditation.

Short or no naps

You know, if you sleep during the day, it makes it hard to sleep at night. 15- 20 minutes of naps can do fine if you feel too tired to function for the rest of the day. Otherwise, naps should be avoided, significantly longer ones.

Suggested Reading: Top 9 Natural Sleep Solutions

Sleep Quality Secures You A Life Free Of Diseases

By now, it’s evident that proper nightly sleep each day can make you healthy. If you were ignoring rest as inessential due to the productive life you want to live, you might be dealing with a sleep disorder.

It’s time to say goodbye to the day-to-day tiredness, irritability, anger, and other mood issues, as well as severe problems like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, sexual dysfunction, and strokes. It’s high time to look after your sleep schedule and prioritize it.

That would secure you a healthy and happy life with maximum productivity.

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Content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. Reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students. 

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