Have you been wondering about the effects of sleep deprivation on your body? More and more, people are realizing that sleep plays a very important role in your overall health and physical condition. Statistics in recent journals show that people who are sleep-deprived not only are tired during the day and suffering from a lack of concentration, but they also are increasing their risks for obesity, congestive heart failure, and diabetes – amongst other conditions.
Here are 5 additional – rather surprising – effects of sleep deprivation that you or your loved one may be dealing with:
1. Sleep deprivation shortens your life expectancy.
Harvard Medical School experts recently revealed that people who get less than 5 hours of sleep are 15 percent more likely to die at any age, from anything. In the “Whitehall II Study,” British researchers discovered that less than five hours of sleep also doubled the risk of death from cardiovascular disease – which is the number one cause of death in America according to the CDC.
2. Your body causes you to gain weight.
Lack of sleep can literally cause your body to work against you, a 2004 study shows. In the study, people who sleep less than six hours per day were about 30 percent more likely to gain weight and become obese than those who slept six to nine hours. This may be due, in part, to the fact that leptin – the hormone that makes you feel full and regulates fat storage – is 15.5 percent lower in those who regularly sleep five hours or less. Conversely, less sleep also increases ghrelin, which is the hormone that stimulates hunger. In short, you’ll feel hungrier and less full throughout the day, naturally leading to wanting to eat more food.
3. A lack of sleep makes you more forgetful.
The effects of sleep deprivation even take a toll on your brain! Five or less hours of sleep three days in a row can damage or kill brain cells. Eventually, the brain won’t be able to clear out the plaque-forming proteins that cause Alzheimers’ and dementia. Your brain needs the “sharp wave ripples” discovered by American and French researchers in 2009 in order to consolidate memory. How do you experience more “sharp wave ripples”? You guessed it! Sharp wave ripples occur most frequently during the deepest levels of sleep occurring during longer sleep time frames.
4. You look older – faster.
You may have noticed the first signs of a lack of sleep on your skin – puffy, red eyes. If this continues over time, it leads to fine lines and wrinkles, hallow skin and dark circles under your eyes. You need human growth hormone – which the body produces in abundance when you are young – in order to keep your body healthy. When you sleep, your body repairs itself, strengthening bones and thickening your skin. Be kind to your skin by getting adequate rest on a regular basis.
5. You get sick more often.
Missing sleep over time wears down your immune system, making it more difficult for your body to fight off viruses and diseases. Effects of sleep deprivation on your immune system can be many, including slowing down your recovery if you do get sick and making your more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as the common cold. Cytokines are proteins your body releases during sleep, which increase when you have an infection or inflammation, and sleep deprivation may decrease the production of these protective proteins.
What can you do? Get more sleep. But – we’re here to help you with that. If you have a diagnosis of mild to moderate sleep apnea, a SomnoDent oral device may also help you get better sleep as you rest longer. Get your body and health in a positive state – working for you instead of against you. Give yourself the gift of rest, and find out if you may be at risk for a sleep disorder by taking our quick sleep assessment.