Sleep deprivation can have a massive impact on your life. Lack of sleep can be due to lack of sleep hours, frequent waking, or lack of quality sleep. The effects of not enough sleep are felt the next day, but they can also become cumulative – and serious.
Common causes of sleep deprivation:
- Sleep rhythm interruptions (e.g. from sleep apnea or noise / light pollution)
- Irregular sleep schedules
- Not enough time allowed for sleep (think small babies, getting up before dawn to get to work on time, etc..)
There can be many other reasons for sleep deprivation, such as emotional factors, stress, anxiety, ‘light-sleeping’ due to conscious desire to wake easily if needed, and illness.
The effects of lack of sleep:
Very few of us have not had night with no sleep for some or other reason in our lives. The following day we are sleepy, physically tired, mentally slow, irritable etc.
However, this is not really classed as sleep deprivation unless it becomes chronic, with all or most nights not offering enough good quality sleep.
The effects of chronic sleep deprivation are feeling like that every day to some extent, with a build-up of those symptoms. Chronic lack of sleep can have further serious impacts on your health and ability to live life to the fullest. This is because many of the body’s regulation, repair and maintenance processes happen while you are sleeping (and at night, specifically).
Mental effects of lack of sleep:
- Poor concentration
- Poor problem-solving skills
- Lack of motivation and ‘brain fog’
- Depression and anxiety
- Memory problems
Long term physical health consequences:
- Compromised immune system with susceptibility to disease
- High blood pressure and inflammation (with higher risks for heart disease)
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Balance problems
- Hormone imbalances and weight gain
- Accelerated aging
The above can make you accident prone. It also impacts negatively on work performance, mood, enjoyment of life, motivation, and relationships with others. Last, but certainly not least, years of bad sleep can cause chronic illness and even lead to early death.
Do not underestimate the importance of sleep when it comes to your health and well-being!