Sleep, you can’t seem to get enough of it. As a matter of fact, sometimes it literally feels like you need more. But, what happens if you choose to stay awake longer? How does sleep deprivation affect you?
Strangely, science understands relatively little about why we sleep, or how it evolves in the first place. After all, laying unconscious for hours, while predators lurk, hardly seems advantageous or smart.
But, we’ve discovered some correlations, for example:
Adults who sleep between 6-8 hours at night tend to live longer. Excess of sleep, however, can lead to medical problems, including Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes.
Similarly, chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to conditions of Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity, Depression, Diabetes and even Brain Damage.
Still, what will happen if you stopped sleeping right now?
Well, after your first sleepless night, your mesolimbic system becomes stimulated and dopamine runs out of control. And this may actually trigger some extra energy, motivation, positivity, and even sex drive. It sounds appealing, but it’s really a trap.
Your brain slowly begins to shut off the areas responsible for planning and evaluating decisions, thus leading to more impulsive behavior. Once exhaustion sets in, you’ll end up with slower reaction time and reduced perceptual and cognitive functions.
After a day or two of sleep deprivation, the body loses its ability to properly metabolize glucose and the immune system starts to shut down.
In some cases, 3 days of no sleep has led to hallucinations.
Furthermore, studies have shown a direct correlation between sleep deprivation and a person’s perceived beauty. Sleep deprived individuals seemed less healthy and less attractive than when they are truly rested.
However, if you feel like you want to go nuts and stay up as much as you can before your body collapses of exhaustion, here are some nasty and surprising effects of the sleep deprivation that you might want to know beforehand:
1. To start, we are going to point out that sleep deprivation increases your risk of cancer, especially breast and prostate cancer. In fact, the connection between sleeplessness and cancer has been studied so much that the World Health Organization has considered labeling shift work as a carcinogen.
2. It causes you to gain weight. As we said earlier, if you are trying to lose weight then you definitely don’t wanna lose sleep as well.
3. It increases inflammation throughout your body. This itself turns into a risk factor for numerous other diseases and complications.
4. It depresses you. While lack of sleep is not a direct cause of depression, the emotional side effects of sleep deprivation are breeding ground for psychological disorders.
5. It makes it harder to control your emotions. On the topic of emotions, sleepy people have a harder time controlling their responses. It’s like a drug, you lose control of your body.
6. When sleep deprived you have a harder time reading other people’s emotions. Not only is it hard to control your own, but it will be harder to relate to others. Certainly not a good thing when it comes to jobs, marriages and so on.
7. It makes your immune system to shut down. Missing sleep will almost guarantee to make you sick, but if you haven’t realized thus far, the common cold is the least of your worries.
8. As we said earlier, it increases the risk of diabetes. The lack of sleep increases your body’s resistance to insulin. For those of you that are medically challenged this basically means that your chance of getting type 2 Diabetes escalates.
9. Sleep deprivation permanently damages your skin. When you don’t get enough sleep your body releases more of the stress hormone Cortisol. Aside from some of it’s more terrifying effects, it breaks down skin collagen, which is the protein that keeps your skin smooth and elastic.
10. Sleeplessness makes your brain “dirty”. Although this is one of the more recent additions to the list, some researchers have recently discussed ways that sleep promotes the removal of neural waste from your brain.
11. It decreases your life expectancy. As we previously stated, by this point this should probably come as no surprise.
12. The lack of sleep reduces the effectiveness of vaccines. Anything less than seven hours of sleep per night and you might as well consider not getting the vaccine in the first place.
13. It increases the risk of heart disease. The stress over your body from the sleep deprivation causes certain hormones to be released that one day will give you a heart attack. In fact, people who sleep less than 6 hours per day have a 48 % higher chance of dying from heart complications later in life.
14. It’s a trap! ( Yes we know that’s one of your favorite memes too. 😀 ) You think you’re performing okay, but you are not. Like any drug, you can’t even judge your own effectiveness at basic tasks adequately.
15. It causes high blood pressure. You already know that lack of sleep is bad for your heart, this fact just worsens things.
16. It causes irregular heartbeats. If all these heart complications aren’t enough you also have to worry about your brain, which brings us to the next effect of sleep deprivation in humans.
17. Sleeplessness increases your risk of stroke. Once again, anyone who sleeps less than six hours a night acquires a heightened risk of having a stroke.
18. It kills creativity. This shouldn’t really be a surprise to you by now.
19. It increases chronic pains. If you have any long-term pains or complications, the lack of sleep will intensify them.
20. It decreases your ability to cope with stress. Your body is weaker both physically and mentally, even low levels of stress will harm you in ways you are not aware of until later in life.
21. It lowers your ability to behave under pressure. Well rested individuals at least have the possibility of keeping things under control in high-pressure situations. Sleep deprived folks will likely panic, make rash decisions or freeze up.
22. Sleep deprivation makes you weaker. It’s during slow-wave sleep that certain growth hormones are released, these chemicals repair your body tissues, raise your muscle mass, thicken your bones and help your skin to recover from damage. ( That’s not something you want to miss out on. )
23. It increases the chance of dying in a car accident exponentially. In many ways sleep, deprivation is worse than being intoxicated. Driving while sleepy is definitely not a good idea under any circumstances. Remember what we said about sleep loss tricking you into thinking you’re ok?
And not but not least in our list is:
24. Sleeplessness causes memory loss. Sure, it is possible to remember a few things for your exam the day after that, but good luck remembering anything after that or concentrating on that vital test.
Well, in the end, the lack of sleep won’t necessarily kill you fast, continuous sleep deprivation will have a negative effect on your body. So make sure you rest when you need it.
If you want to know more about human sleep make sure you visit our other articles on that topic.