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What Happens If You Don't Get Enough Sleep

How The Body Reacts

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Feeling constantly tired is terrible. One of the worst feelings is waking up the next day having not slept for long and knowing that you have a busy day ahead of you to get through. A lot of times it’s completely avoidable but sometimes it’s our own fault as we stay up late for different reasons with anything from late nights out, working to a deadline or late-night exam cramming sessions.

We know it’s bad for us who really knows just HOW bad? Well here is a list of different reasons why you should do your utmost to ensure you get the magic number of 8 hours sleep each night.

BRAIN HEALTH

Long hours awake, we’re talking 20+ hours, has been researched to being exactly the same as being drunk. Your mind becomes foggy and anything you need to stay awake to do will not be done correctly and you may be doing more harm that anything else. A lack of sleep causes the synapses between the neurons in the brain to be kept in an “excited” state, inhibiting their neuroplasticity. If at least 8 hours isn’t possible, then a minimum of six hours sleep is enough to restore some brain functionality.

WEIGHT GAIN

Yes, those long nights with minimal sleep can be causing you weight gain. Fluctuations in ghrelin and leptin, the hormones that regulate metabolism and appetite, are to blame. It’s also proven through multiple studies that people who sleep less, also tend to eat more and exercise less as they’re too tired to go for a workout the following day. Plan your evening ahead and make sure you go to sleep at a reasonable hour.

STRESS & MOOD

This is where it can become a vicious cycle as stress and anxiety can lead to sleep deprivation and in turn sleep deprivation can lead to stress and anxiety. Stress is a major contributor to a lack of sleep as it can cause restless nights worrying about things which the following day will also a bad mood from overtiredness. Try and remove stress factors from your lifestyle and implement things that will help you relax better each day.

IMPAIRED MEMORY & LEARNING ABILITY

Studies have suggested that sleep deprivation is so bad for memory because it affects how neurons connect to one another in the brain. A Harvard study of US nurses found that those who slept five hours or less every night had worse memories than those who got the optimum amount of sleep.

In regards to learning ability, a team of Swiss researchers found that disturbances to deep sleep have a big impact on your brain’s ability to absorb new information and learn new tasks. Study participants were found to be less efficient at learning new movements as the day wore on.

HEALTH ISSUES

It’s a fact that the body uses sleep as a way to not only recharge the batteries but also a whole number of processes including recharging the immune system, so a lack of sleep can break down the immune system and increase the chances of succumbing to illness. These can include both short term illnesses such as colds and flu as well as long term, more serious illnesses with increased risk of diabetes, increased blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, weaker bones and cancer.

YOUR RELATIONSHIPS WILL SUFFER

A study from the University of Arizona identified a weird side-effect of sleep deprivation: it makes you worse at identifying subtle changes in others’ levels of sadness and happiness. That could mean you’ll infuriate someone because you misread their expressions. It can also cause you to become extremely cranky which can also make you more prone to angry outbursts at friends, colleagues or loved ones. All of these aspects can potentially jeopardise all your relationships and leaving you on the outs with your social group.

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