5 Surprising Health Risks of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is a condition that occurs when a person doesn’t get enough sleep. Not only is sleeping a basic human need but an important part of the foundation for good health and well-being. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers sleep deprivation and sleep deficiency to be an unrecognized epidemic in modern America. As an adult, you should have between seven to eight hours of sleep every night. Without adequate sleep on a regular basis, a person faces greater health risks. Sleep deprivation drains your mental abilities, impairs your judgement, and puts your physical health at risk. 

Sleep deprivation Can Lead to Heart Disease

Sleep is essential for a healthy heart. Sleep deprivation has been shown to raise the risk for coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease- regardless of a person’s lifestyle habits, age, or weight. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body’s underlying biological processes like inflammation, blood sugar, metabolism, and blood pressure are disrupted. 

Affects the Immune System

You’re well aware of the role your immune system plays in your body. Prolonged lack of sleep causes a disruption in the functioning of your immune system. Studies have shown that people who get enough sleep recover more quickly than those who sleep less. The immune system builds up its forces to combat bacteria, viruses, and other foreign invaders while you sleep. 

Lack of Sleep Kills Sex Drive

Research shows that sleep deprivation leads to less interest in sex and lower libidos in men and women. Sleep improves your mood and libido as you get more energy. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to reduced levels of testosterone and growth hormone in men. Regular sleep disruptions can also reduce secretion and reproductive hormones. 

Affects Mental Health

Over time, sleep deprivation can contribute to the symptoms of mental distress and depression. Sleep loss has been shown to aggravate the symptoms of depression. Psychological risks associated with lack of enough sleep include depression, suicidal thoughts, paranoia, impulsive behavior, and anxiety. Sleep is the essential downtime your mental faculties need to process emotions, rejuvenate, consolidate memories, and recharge. 

Sleep Deprivation can lead to Obesity

Sleep deprivation is one of risk factors for becoming obese and overweight. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body increases the production of ghrelin hormone and reduces leptin. Sleep affects the production of these two hormones. Leptin is the hormone that informs your brain that you’ve had enough food for the moment. Ghrelin, on the other hand, is the “hunger hormone” that signals your brain to eat. The fact that sleep deprivation causes your brain to raise the level of ghrelin means that you’re likely to overeat. Lack of enough sleep also leads to increased insulin production after you eat. Increased insulin levels in the body promote fat storage which can lead to obesity. 

The easiest and most basic way of treating sleep deprivation is ensuring you get enough sleep. You may need to see a sleep specialist or your doctor for diagnosis and treatment of a possible sleep disorder. Remember, your body needs seven to eight hours of sleep daily. 

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