What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep

What REALLY happens to your body when you don't get enough sleep: Side effects of a poor night's rest revealed - and the simple tricks to sleep soundly.

Enough sleep is essential for your general well-being. Having one night of deprived sleep cannot amount to any health dangers. However, consecutive nights of poor sleep can do more harm to your body.

A study conducted in the United Kingdom by Understanding Society on sleep patterns and health came up with several findings that show about 37% of people in the UK sleep for less than seven hours a night. 56% of the people said they rest for 7 to 9 hours which is the recommended sleeping time. Adults, teenagers, and children have a different recommended number of sleeping hours.

The vast majority of us experience the effects of sleep deprivation far too often, sometimes even without us knowing it. How has sleep deprivation affected you? Share your story in comments section

Primary school children are advised to sleep for nine to 10 hours while teenagers can also sleep for eight to ten hours. Adults should rest for at least eight hours depending on some of their daily activities. The kind of business you do during the day should determine the amount of rest you get. If you have had a tiresome day, then make sure you get enough rest. One can sleep early when they get home to achieve the number hours required for quality rest.

Effects of sleep deprivation on your health

According to Better Health, lack of enough sleep can be hazardous to your health in several ways. Make sure you rest within the recommended number of hours to stay in good health. Here are some health conditions that may come as a result of poor sleep.

1. Poor memory

Depriving yourself sleep can lead to memory loss or forgetfulness. A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of California shows that poor sleep among the elderly can lead to memory loss. The researchers found that there are essential electrical impulses produced by the brain during sleep. These pulses play a crucial role in storing memory. They transfer memories from a section of the brain referred to as hippocampus to the prefrontal cortex where long memories are stored. You should get enough sleep or take powerful naps during the day for improved memory. 

Recommended reading: Best Bedtime Teas for People with Insomnia

2. Increase in weight

Sleep deprivation can make you gain weight fast.  It can affect your brain in a way that you will crave for more food which will not be processed efficiently. It disrupts the body hormones that control appetite. When you are experiencing insomnia and running low on energy, you will be tempted to make that trip to your kitchen or refrigerator for a quick snack. Doing this on a regular basis can lead to the gaining of weight. Get enough rest to stay free from becoming obese

3. Fatigue

Not sleeping for enough hours will lead to fatigue and reduced productivity the following day. A study on sleep deprivation and performance loss published in the Cornell University Library shows two continuous nights of less than six hours sleep can leave you inactive. The performance of your brain can interfere with your productivity levels. Fatigue brought about by lack of sleep is listed as a major cause of road accidents. It can also impair your judgment and make you come up with poor decisions. 

4. Diabetes

Lack of sleep can affect your blood sugar levels. When the amount of rest reduces, your blood sugar levels increases. Researchers from Boston University, School of Medicine, came up with findings that show people who sleep for less than six hours had more complications with their blood sugar levels compared to those who sleep for about 8 hours. Lack of enough rest affects the ability of your body to burn glucose, which leaves one at the risk of being diabetic.

5. Aged skin

Not getting enough sleep can lead to the ageing of your skin. Many have experienced sagging skin and puffy eyes after nights of missed sleep. It can also lead to the formation of dark circles under the eyes. A stress hormone known as cortisol is produced when you experience sleep deprivation. If released in excess amounts, it can affect the function of collagen, which is the protein that helps keep your skin smooth and elastic. Little rest will also trigger the release of less growth hormone which helps thicken your skin.

Solutions for when you can't sleep

Getting the required amount of sleep will help heal your body and keep you in good health. You should observe proper sleeping habits and rest in the recommended number of hours. Here are some ways you can experience better sleep:

Limit caffeine intake

You should limit the consumption of caffeine which might lead to sleep deprivation. Caffeine is a well-known stimulant which keeps your body systems active after consumption. You can find it in beverages like coffee or other drugs. Once taken at night, it will keep your body active and reduce your sleeping hours. Go slow on the consumption of this drug at night and others that contain nicotine.

Reduce exposure to light

Your brain releases the melatonin hormone which helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. It is released in excess during darkness, and this makes you sleepy. Exposing yourself to excess light will alter the release of this hormone. You should turn off your computer moments before you go to bed. Reduce the screen brightness of your phones, computer or TV two hours before going to bed. One can also turn off the lights of their living room at night. Lastly, make sure your room is dark during sleep time.

Create a good sleep environment

You should improve your sleeping environment to experience a good night's sleep. Make sure your room is silent and get a suitable bedtime drink like green tea. If noisy neighbors surround you, then it is high time you eliminate yourself from them. Find a quiet residential area free from noisy traffic. Make sure your room has temperatures conducive for a night's rest. You can do this by improving your ventilation or buying a conditioner to regulate the heat in your place. Make your bed comfortable by cleaning your beddings and using the right cushioning materials. Get yourself mattresses and sleep apnea pillows of a standard size which are comfortable. A good environment will naturally help improve the quality of your sleep.

Featured image credit: ISTOCK

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