Effects of Sleep Deprivation

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We all know not getting enough sleep at night can make us cranky in the morning. What we don’t know is how lack of sleep impacts the rest of your body as well. It can affect your health, looks and even your ability to lose weight.

Sleep Loss Dumbs You Down

Sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning and lack of sleep can hurt these cognitive processes. It impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning and problem solving. During the night, various sleep cycles play a role in “consolidating” memories in the mind. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you won’t be able to remember what you learned and experienced during the day.

Serious Health Problems

Sleep disorders and chronic sleep loss can put you at risk for:

– Heart disease
– Heart attack
– Heart failure
– Irregular heartbeat
– High blood pressure
– Stroke
– Diabetes

According to some estimates, 90% of people with insomnia also have another health condition.

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Lack of Sleep Ages Your Skin

Many people have experienced sickly, yellow skin and puffy eyes as a result of missing a few nights of sleep. It turns out that chronic sleep loss can also lead to lackluster skin, fine lines and dark circles under the eyes.

When you don’t get enough sleep your body releases more stress hormones. In excess amounts, this hormone can break down skin collagen, the protein that keep skin smooth and elastic.

Health Benefits of Sleep

Getting adequate quality sleep at night is a key part of a healthy lifestyle and can benefit your heart, weight and mind. It not only helps you feel healthier and more energized, but it also goes beyond boosting your mood and getting rid of dark circles under your eyes.

Curb Inflammation

Inflammation is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and premature aging. Research indicates that people who get six or less hours of sleep a night have higher levels of inflammatory proteins in their blood than those who get more hours of sleep a night.

Reduce Risk of Getting Sick

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Lack of sleep can suppress your immune system, which makes you vulnerable to infections. During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Cytokines are the proteins in your body that aid cell to cell communication in immune responses and stimulate the movement of cells toward sites of inflammation, infection and trauma. When your body is tired and not getting enough rest, these proteins and the cells used to fight off inflammation and infection are not reproducing.

Avoid Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that being tired accounted for the highest number of fatal, single-car, run-off-the-road crashes due to the driver’s performance – even more than alcohol. Insufficient sleep for just one night can be as detrimental to your driving ability as having an alcoholic drink.

Improve Performance

Getting extra sleep can even improve athletic performance. Five swimmers were monitored as part of a study in 2008. They extended their sleep to 10 hours a day for six to seven weeks. At the end of the study the athletes could swim faster and react more quickly.

Many of us try to sleep as little as possible. While so many things seem more interesting or important than getting a few more hours of sleep, just like exercise and nutrition are vital to staying healthy, so is getting a good night’s rest.