Why Lack of Sleep is Bad For You


Many effects of a lack of sleep, such as feeling grumpy and not working your best, are well known. But did you know that sleep deprivation can also have serious consequences for your physical health?

Regular poor sleep puts you at risk of many medical conditions, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, and can also shorten your life expectancy.

How much sleep do we need?

Most of us need around 8 hours of good-quality sleep a night to function properly – but some need more and some less. You should find out how much sleep you need and then try to achieve it. If you wake up tired and spend the day waiting for a chance to have a nap, it’s more or less likely that you’re not getting enough sleep. A good variety of factors can cause poor sleep, including health conditions such as sleep apnea, but in most cases, it’s due to bad sleeping habits.

What if I don’t sleep?

1. You get sick

Losing sleep can impair your body’s ability to fight off illness. This makes it easier to get sick.

Researchers even uncovered a relationship between sleep and your immune system. You may lose additional sleep while your body fights off a bug if you get sick and haven’t had enough.

2. Your heart suffers

Both short sleep durations (-5 hours per night) and long sleep durations (9+hours per night) have been shown to have a negative impact on heart health. Your chances of developing coronary heart disease or having a stroke are hugely increased due to less sleep.

3. Your cancer risk increases

Shortened sleep is associated with higher rates of breast cancer, colon cancer, etc.

According to a study I remember, overnight shift workers may take the “brunt of this burden.”  The good news is that both men and women who have slept 7+ hours per night have had the best mortality rates in the group.

4. You can’t think

Missing even one night of sleep can lead to major cognition issues.

In a study published by EBR, a group of 18 men was given a task. The first task was completed following a full night’s sleep. The next task was completed after skipping a night of sleep. Brain functions including memory, decision-making, reasoning, and problem-solving worsened, along with reaction time and alertness.

5. You start to forget stuff

Not only can missing sleep make you more forgetful, but there’s also a growing body of research indicating that sleep has an impact on learning and memory.

Researchers suggest sleep is critical to the process of needing proper rest to lock in new information and commit it to memory.

6. You gain weight

Lack of sleep can cause you to gain pounds

A study examined the relationship between sleep and weight in 21,469 adults over the age of 20. The people who slept less than 5 hours each night over the course of the three-year study were more likely to gain weight and eventually become obese. Those who slept between 7 and 8 hours fared better on the scale.

7. Your risk of diabetes increases

Along with a bigger waistline, people who don’t get enough sleep (or who get too much) increase their risk of developing diabetes.

Researchers examined 10 separate studies focused on sleep and diabetes. Their findings uncovered that 7 to 8 hours of rest is the optimal range to avoid issues that could lead to diabetes.

The poor sleepers were also more dissatisfied with their appearance than their well-rested counterparts.