woman waking up after not getting enough sleep, still tired

The Serious Consequences of Insufficient Sleep

I think it’s pretty safe to say that most adults are not getting enough sleep.

We’re all too busy. It’s easy to stay up too late to binge new Netflix shows or to study. You’re putting in long hours at work and you want to hang with friends. Or maybe you would like to sleep, but you have a sleep disorder like sleep apnea that’s keeping you awake.

Whatever is preventing you from getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep, I’m sure you’ve felt the short-term effects: you’re cranky, you’re groggy, and you find it hard to concentrate.

However, sleep deprivation doesn’t just make you feel tired. It can have some pretty serious long-term effects on your health.

Changes in Behaviors and Mood

After a while, sleep deprivation will eventually lead to changes in your mood. It can make you emotional, quick-tempered, and irritable. Your mood changes may develop into disorders such as anxiety or depression.

Weakened Immune System

A lack of sleep can leave you vulnerable to common infections and illnesses, as it lowers the effectiveness of your immune system. You’re much more likely to get sick from viruses like those that cause the common cold and flu because your immune system’s defenses are down.

Concentration and Memory Issues

While you’re sleeping, your brain uses that time to form connections to process and remember new information. Without enough sleep, your brain isn’t given time to commit things to memory. This can negatively impact short- and long-term memory, and will also decrease your concentration, creativity, and problem-solving skills.

Weight Gain

One of the most noticeable symptoms of poor sleep is weight gain. Hormones are regulated while you’re asleep, so without giving your body the proper time, the chemicals that signal to your brain that you are full could be off balance. On top of that, some studies have shown that sleep deprivation can lead to obesity by causing fatty acid buildup within the blood that negatively impacts our metabolism.

Hight Blood Pressure and Heart Disease

Long-term sleep deprivation can increase your risk of heart disease, because it can lead to increased blood pressure and higher levels of chemicals linked to inflammation.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Some studies suggest that there could be a link between sleep deprivation and an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Poor sleep can cause a greater amount of beta-amyloid deposition in the brain, and this compound is a definitive marker of Alzheimer’s.

Kate Singer