For many people, “a good night sleep” is merely considered down time, when the brain shuts off and the body is at complete rest. Many people tend to give less priority to sleep than other obligations that seem much important. The latest research, however, suggests that the body and mind perform a number of important activities during sleep that help us stay healthy and function at our best during the day.
Insufficient sleep or poor sleep, is linked to a number of problems, some of which are experienced immediately such as fatigue, lack of concentration, irritability, and lapses in memory. Also, growing evidence suggests that a chronic lack of sleep increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, decreased fertility, Immune system deficiency, depression, and anxiety. Lack of sleep or inadequate sleep is a major problem in Australia affecting 30-45% of the population. So, what are the effects of lack of sleep on your body and how can we effectively get more of it.
Effects of Lack of Sleep on the Body
Let’s take a closer look at some of the surprising effects of lack of sleep on the body and mind:
Lack of Sleep and Your Heart
Effects of long-term sleep deprivation on your heart can be dangerous and even deadly. Chronically sleep-deprived people are more likely to get cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, heart failure, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and stroke.
Lack of Sleep and Your Brain
Lack of sleep or poor sleep can leave the brain exhausted. An exhausted brain is unable to perform the necessary duties that are vital to keeping us happy, healthy, and productive. Chronic sleep deprivation can result in short and long-term memory loss, inability to concentrate, drowsiness, irritability, lack of motivation, lowered alertness and chronic stress.
Lack of Sleep and Your Stomach
Lack of sleep seems to be related to an increase in appetite and lack of physical activity, which in turn may lead to obesity. Sleep deprivation is also believed to cause higher levels of insulin to be released. Higher levels of insulin in the blood promote fat storage and also increase the risk of developing type-2 diabetes.
Lack of Sleep and Your Immune System
While we sleep, our body produces cytokines – protective, infection-fighting antibodies. Cytokines defend our body against foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria that cause common illnesses. Lack of sleep significantly decreases our body’s ability to produce these antibodies and therefore make us more vulnerable when exposed to different viruses, germs, and bacteria.
Lack of Sleep and Your Skin
Saggy skin and puffy eyes are some of the common symptoms of sleep deprivation. If you experience chronic sleep issues, it may even lead to lackluster skin, dark circles under the eyes and more fine lines and wrinkles. Lack of sleep causes the body to release more cortisol – a stress hormone. Higher levels of cortisol in the body cause break down of the collagen in the skin, resulting in many different ageing effects.
So, what can you do to get a better night’s sleep? Here are some handy tips you can try to restore your sleep balance and ensure unrestricted good-quality sleep.
- make sure to stick to a bedtime routine
- make healthy eating choices
- get ample exposure to sunlight during the day
- hit the gym and perform mild exercise during the day
- avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcoholic drinks close to bedtime
- keep your bedroom dark and quiet and as comfortable as possible
- practice relaxation techniques / mindfulness before bedtime
Southbank Medical Centre