Not getting enough sleep can put us in a bad mood for the rest of the day, and effects mental and physical performance – it’s no surprise really. What may come as a surprise is the other draw backs of not getting enough sleep, and how they impact our overall health and wellbeing.
In today’s demanding society, no one would really blame you if you fail to get more than 6 hours sleep. It is not seen as unreasonable, and is something I have been guilty of doing myself. However, according to recent research from the Royal Mental Health Center, even one night of less than 6 hours sleep impairs our brains enough to put us on the same cognitive level as having a blood alcohol level of 0.05 – a level that makes it illegal to drive in many countries. It is a pretty scary thought!
What makes matter worse is that this is not the only way a lack of sleep negatively affects us.
It is generally estimated that some 1 in 3 Europeans are not getting enough sleep. It comes down to modern lifestyle and technology. Today’s high stress, ultra connectivity and hours sitting in front of light emitting screens disrupt our internal clock and sleep patterns, putting many in a dangerous long term position.
One night’s lack of sleep will impair your brain, but not cause any long lasting damage. Consistently depriving yourself of a goods nights rest has much worse implications. The following are a few negatives to be expected.
Sleeping less can make you gain weight
A lack of sleep stimulates a larger appetite as it strives for more energy. Not only this, but it also causes the body to crave fattier, carb-heavy foods – increasing the risk of obesity.
Lack of sleep kills the sex drive
The decreased energy, sleepiness and increased tension caused by lack of sleep is reported to greatly lower the libido in both men and women.
Lack of sleep can cause serious disease
Not getting enough sleep puts you at a higher risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat, a stroke and complete heart failure.
Being constantly tired can cause depression
A consistent lack of sleep can cause the symptoms of depression. Insomnia, the most common sleeping disorder is strongly associated with the illness.
Sleep deprivation ages your skin
When you don’t get enough sleep, the body releases an increased level of the stress hormone called cortisol. When an excess of this hormone builds up within the body, it begins to break down collagen, a protein responsible for keeping skin looking young and elasticated.
Not getting enough sleep makes you forgetful
Researchers have found that the consolidation of memory happens mostly during deep levels of sleep. Without it, new information can be quickly lost.
Generally speaking, most people find 8 hours of sleep to be enough; some need a bit more, some need a bit less. What is important is to get enough so that you do not feel like you need to nap throughout the day – if you do, you are probably not getting enough. 6 hours is thought to be the absolute minimum.
The list of negative impacts is a pretty long and varied one. If you are trying to get your health on track, and boost your overall wellbeing, make sure you are getting enough sleep!