This due to damning scientific evidence that sleep is immensely important to your health, but also to society.
9 ways sleep deprivation impacts your health.
1: Sleep deprivation makes you tired and forgetful.
Especially students know what it’s like pulling an all-nighter cramming for an exam. Even though this tactic might seem smart, choosing to sleep instead would be much smarter.
Sleep deprivation actually prevents your brain from making new memories.
Studies show that after being awake all night, or only getting a few hours of sleep, you have a much harder time remembering newly acquired information, and the facts you knew at 2.A.M. will be gone when morning comes.
2: Sleep deprivation will impact your ability to concentrate.
How long can we stay awake before we see declines in brain function? The answer to this seems to be about 16 hours.
After being awake for 19 hours your mental capacity is so impaired that you would be as sufficient as someone who was legally drunk behind the wheel of a car.
People falling asleep at the wheel is a huge problem.
The most common cause of car crashes in the United States is in fact drivers suffering a momentary lapse in concentration, which is called microsleep.
For a few seconds, your brain becomes blind and other senses also drop out. You might not even notice that you’re swerving before you hit the curb or an oncoming car.
On top of this we often underestimate our degree of performance disability. This is why someone who’s had a couple of drinks still might drive home afterward. Which obviously can cause huge accidents.
3: Sleep deprivation makes you emotionally irrational.
Studies show that after less than 6 hours of sleep we will produce inappropriate emotional reactions, but we also fail to put events into a broader context.
When you have a good night sleep the emotional center in the brain, the amygdala, and the brain region for reasoning and logical thinking, the prefrontal cortex, rebuild a strong connection that has been weakened through the course of the day.
If you’re sleep deprived this connection won’t be rebuilt and you will experience more overwhelming emotionality because your reasoning skills are impaired.
4: Sleep deprivation is strongly correlated with depression.
Over time, the lack of sleep and sleep disorders, like insomnia, can contribute to the symptoms of depression. People diagnosed with insomnia are five times as likely to develop depression as those without it. In fact, insomnia is often one of the first symptoms of depression.
Insomnia and depression actually seem to feed on each other. Sleep loss often aggravates the symptoms of depression and depression can make it more difficult to fall asleep. On the positive side, treating sleep problems can help depression and its symptoms, and vice versa.
5: Sleep loss increases the chance of developing type 2 diabetes.
The less you sleep the more likely you are to eat. Your body becomes unable to manage calories effectively, especially the concentration of sugar in the blood.
In your body there are two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, which balances your experience of hunger. Leptin signals a sense of feeling full while ghrelin triggers a strong sensation of hunger.
When you’re sleep deprived your body produce more ghrelin. This leads to a stronger and more frequent feeling of hunger, which leads to a bigger calorie intake, resulting in overeating and obesity. When you eat, glucose will be realized into your bloodstream.
In a healthy individual the hormone insulin will trigger the cells of your body to absorb glucose from the bloodstream should it increase, as happens after eating a meal.
When you’re sleep deprived the body becomes less responsive to insulin, and a bigger amount of blood sugar will circulate in your blood stream. If this response is maintained over a longer period of time you will develop type 2 diabetes.
6: Sleep deprivation is strongly correlated with Alzheimer’s decease.
Some people, even world leaders like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan claimed to sleep only 4 to 5 hours a night. This statement might have been to paint a heroic picture of themselves, but sadly they both suffered Alzheimer’s decease later in life.
I can’t claim that the only reason they suffered this Alzheimer’s was due to sleep deprivation, but there is a clear indication that sleep deprivation is correlated with the development of Alzheimer’s decease.
When you are sleep deprived there’s an increased development of a toxic protein in the brain called beta-amyloid, which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
When you’re in deep sleep at night there’s a sewage system in the brain that cleans out this poisonous protein, so if you’re not getting enough sleep every night more of this Alzheimer-associated protein will build up in your brain.
The more protein you build up the greater the risk of you developing dementia in later life.
7: Sleep deprivation affects your reproductive system.
Studies show that men who are sleeping 5–6 hours a night have the same testosterone level of someone ten to fifteen years their senior.
Women that routinely sleep less than six hours have a 20% drop in hormones critical to the female reproductive system. A study also showed that women working night shifts had a 33% higher rate of abnormal menstrual cycles.
Another study showed that people who got 5 hours of sleep were considered less attractive than those who had gotten 8 hours of sleep.
So “beauty sleep” is actually a thing!
8: Sleep deprivation impacts your immune system.
Sleep is a worrier, fighting against infections and sickness. When you’re sleep deprived you have a bigger risk of developing colds, influenza and pneumonia.
After just one night of 5 to 6 hours of sleep there is also a 70% reduction in critical anti-cancer fighting immune cells called natural killer cells.
So short sleep duration predicts your risk for developing numerous forms of cancer, like cancer of the breast, cancer of the bowel and cancer of the prostate.
9: Sleep deprivation affects your cardiovascular system.
During deep sleep at night you receive a wonderful and effective form of blood pressure medication: your heart rate drops, and your blood pressure goes down.
If you’re not getting sufficient sleep, you’re not getting that reboot of the cardiovascular system. If you’re getting 6 or fewer hours of sleep, you have a 200% increased risk of having a fatal heart attack or a stroke in your lifetime.
You have been there too many times. You wake up tired and exhausted after a bad night.
The alarm clock tells you to get up but our body screams after more sleep. Sounds familiar?
This was the start of my day for many years. So I decided to take action. Fight my sleep deprivation!
Take control over the bad 6-hour sleep habit I had learned myself.
Yes, bad habits can be unlearned. But I needed help! A framework to guide me on the path to become a better me. Looking for answers I started a podcast for the sleep-deprived. A podcast to help my fellow overworked friends sleep better.
It exploded! After 1,5 years of service, 11 million had downloaded my podcast. 1245, heartbreaking reviews from all over the world had been submitted.
It was time to help even more people out there. Then the idea of the sleep app was born.
A mindful audio sleep app for iPhone.
I had finally the framework I needed to guide me to sleep and help others.