Sleep deprivation is a widespread problem in many modern societies. Risk factors include a combination of social or biological elements. However, they can also include psychological issues such as those related to stress. Among the most worrisome risk factors are sleep apnea and physical ailments like cardiac arrhythmias. Here are the wide-ranging effects of sleep deprivation on your body.
Short-Term Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Temporary irregular sleep patterns contribute to depression. The relationship between depression and short-term sleep deprivation is complicated and involves many factors. Nonetheless, experimental studies show a direct correlation between sleep deprivation and developing depression.
Fragmented sleep can also increase autonomic sympathetic activation. Experimental studies reveal increased sympathetic activation produces a vasoconstrictive effect, and that can contribute to cardiovascular disease. The problem was more related to overall sleep disruption rather than the total amount of sleep lost.
Quantitative interview-based studies reveal a wide range of psychosocial issues related to sleep disruption. These include mood disorders, emotional distress, memory problems, and general performance deficits.
Adolescents and children are affected by short-term sleep deprivation too. Risk-taking behavior and poor academic performance seem to be the main factors of sleep deprivation in young people. Other factors include substance abuse, anxiety, bad behavior and poor mental health.
Long-Term Effects of Sleep Deprivation
A large case-control study from Taiwan revealed long term sleep disorders could disrupt the cardiac rhythm and therefore hasten tumor formation and the risk of cancer. Clinical data showed night shift work is associated with an increased chance of tumors turning malignant.
The mechanisms responsible are not completely clear. However, scientists theorize that light exposure is the cause because it decreases the hormone melatonin. Therefore turn off the TV, darken the windows and turn off the lights when you have to sleep during the day.
Another ramification of long-term sleep deficiency is an early death. One study using the Nottingham Health Profile revealed there is a higher chance of all-cause mortality in men but not in women. The possibilities became greater for individuals with certain underlying medical conditions.
Weaken Immune System
The human immune system produces certain substances to help fight disease. Lack of sleep prevents the immune system from producing these substances at the optimal levels. Studies suggest that people who are sleep deprived catch colds and viruses more often. Moreover, sleep deprivation also affects recovery.
High Blood Pressure
Uninterrupted sleep regulates a wide array of functions throughout the body. Among them are the regulation of stress hormones. People with sleep apnea or whos sleep is frequently interrupted are at a higher risk of developing hypertension.
Sex Hormones are also affected by irregular sleeping patterns. For example, sleep deprivation lowers testosterone and estrogen because it interferes with circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is what controls our physical and mental cycles.
Studies in Japan show lack of sleep increases appetite. That is because the hormone leptin is affected. Leptin is known as the hunger hormone, and it is what gives us that full feeling when we eat. Irregular sleep patterns can also lead to diabetes, which can lead to weight gain.
The effects of sleep deprivation on your body can affect you in many ways. In severe cases, the health consequences are dire. However, we can guard against poor sleep patterns in many ways. Turning off the lights and TV before we go to bed is one way to improve your sleep. Refrain from drinking alcohol and caffeine late in the evening will also help to improve sleeping patterns. Setting a regular time for bed is another way to ensure we are getting full and uninterrupted sleep.