Oftentimes we tend to overlook sleep. We sacrifice a good night’s sleep to finish pending work, to study for an exam or to do leisure activities like browsing the web, reading books or playing online games. But what we do not know is that our bodies were made to work and also to rest; our bodies need at least a good 8 hours of sleep to be able to recuperate and to restore vital functions. With less and less sleep every day, our tissues deteriorate and our cognitive abilities decrease. Here are some reasons why lack of sleep is detrimental to health and wellness:
A prolonged lack of sleep could lead to reduced immunity. The immune system is disrupted when you do not take at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep every day and this leads to increased risk of developing colds, coughs, and flu. The more you ward off sleep the more your body’s immune system deteriorates and this leads to the development of more severe illnesses.
Sleep-deprived people are found to have reduced levels of leptin which is a natural chemical found in the body that makes you feel full and reduced levels of ghrelin which is also a natural chemical that controls hunger and hunger stimulation. Therefore if you sleep less you tend to crave for more food and are more likely to eat more often than usual leading to weight gain.
Poor cognitive abilities
Even a single day of sleeplessness could lead to grumpiness, reduced attention span and poor memory, what more if you prolong sleeplessness for several days? It is during sleep that the brain sorts out different things that has happened during the day and not being able to sleep even for just a day or a few days will disrupt this natural activity of the brain leading to severe memory loss and reduced cognitive ability.
There are also studies that lack sleep that could lead to mood disorders, depression and anxiety and these symptoms were exhibited by persons that have less than 6 hours of good sleep at night.
Increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes
Lack of sleep could also disrupt the body’s ability to process glucose and therefore could increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And since cells use sugar as fuel, a person that has prolonged lack of sleep may feel sluggish, have low energy to spare for daily activities and have very poor mental abilities. Poor sleep could lead to the development of all kinds of illnesses and while some may be as simple as the flue there are more complicated diseases that can cause terrible complications when not treated and overlooked.
Increased risk of developing cardiac diseases
Lack of sleep leads to increase blood pressure and the release of chemicals responsible for inflammation. And prolonged hypertension and inflammation of the tissues of the heart lead to cardiac illness in the long run. For people that may already have heart disease, prolonged lack of sleep could strain the heart even more and thus leads to further complications.
Poor sex drive and fertility
Studies about the relationship between sleep and sex drive in men and win women show that poor sleep could lower libido. Men that suffer from a condition known as sleep apnea or difficulty in breathing during sleep, have lower sex drives and may even lose interest in sex altogether.
Men and women that tend to forgo sleep due to stress, work and leisure are also endangering their reproductive capacities. Apparently, reduced sleep disrupts the natural production of reproductive hormones in both men and women and therefore could affect fertility. Lack of sleep also leads to stress, anxiety, and depression which are factors that could affect the ability of a person to conceive.
Catching up on your missed hours of sleep is the only way you can reduce these effects and this is easier said than done. This will never be accomplished by just sleeping earlier for one night but rather you need to pay off your sleep debt on a daily basis by clocking in an hour or two earlier than what you usually do. Having the right mattress and pillows just like the best pillow for side sleepers will also help make sleep comfortable and thus improves sleep in the long run.