Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

We all know that achieving a good night's sleep is essential for our overall health and well-being. Sleeping enough (between 7 and 9 hours every night) makes you feel fresh, energized and alert the next day. But in today’s fast-pace life of the modern society, we work all day and then in the evening, we watch movies, play video games, enjoy television, surf the internet or participate in other social activities. This stressful lifestyle results in sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation or lack of sleep is affecting 47 million people in US. Sleep deprivation is very harmful for our health and can cause many health problems. Here are provided some of the mental and physical effects of sleep deprivation.

Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

There are two types of sleep deprivation like acute and chronic. Acute sleep deprivation is a condition in which the individual does not get enough sleep for up to two days while chronic sleep deprivation exists when the individual regularly does not get right amount of sleep required for optimal functioning. Major causes of the condition are stress, diet, alcohol, hectic work, medication side effects, busy social life, age and uncomfortable sleeping environment. A sleep-deprived person can be recognized by poor concentration, low productivity, daytime sleepiness, slurred speech, low mood and constant fatigue. This condition can lead to psychosis and death. Up till now there is no documented case of death due to sleep deprivation.

Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Weight Gain
Sleep deprivation can cause a weight gain to the people who sleep 6 hours or less. Insufficient sleep disturbs the hormones that trigger hunger and control appetite. It increases the production of ghrelin and decreases the amount of leptin. Ghrelin is a hormone which sends hunger signals or tells you when to eat, whereas leptin is a hormone that tells you when to stop eating. So, high amount of ghrelin and less amount of leptin are equal to weight gain. Lack of sleep also increases the cortisol levels, a hormone that promotes calorie storage as fat.

Decreased Performance and Alertness

Another effect of sleep deprivation is reduction in performance and alertness. Reducing your nighttime sleep by just 90 minutes for one night can decrease the daytime alertness by 32%. You will face a difficulty while concentrating, learning and communicating at work. Thus, your work will be completed at a slower pace.
Serious Illnesses
Prolonged sleep deprivation suppresses or weakens the immune system of the body, particularly in people who sleep less than 6 hours a night. The body will not be able to fight against diseases because of weak immune system. Sleep deprivation can put you at risk for illnesses like diabetes, irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, strokes, heart disease and high blood pressure. It also increases cytokines levels which are linked to cancer and other chronic illnesses.


Sleep deprivation enhances your risk of occupational injury or injuring yourself while driving. The people who sleep for 7 hour or less are two times more susceptible to accidents than people who sleep for 8 hours. Lack of sleep makes you tired so you are not able to focus on things properly and stay alert. All these things are sufficient to cause an accident at work or while driving. As per the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission (NHTSA), around 100,000 automobile crashes, 71,000 injuries, and 1,550 deaths are caused by reduced mental alertness due to sleep deprivation.

Memory Loss

People suffering from sleep deprivation can experience memory loss. Improper sleep damages our ability to learn every day tasks, consolidate memories and make decisions by a large degree. If the brain doesn’t get proper rest, it stops making certain types of cells in an area, which is known for making new memories. This causes memory and learning difficulties.
Decreased Sex Drive

Sleep-deprived individuals (men and women) have lower sex drive and less interest in sex. The desire for sexual intercourse decreases due to depleted energy and increased tension. According to a study, men suffering from sleep apnea have lower levels of testosterone which can also decrease the sex drive.


Lack of sleep and depression fuel each other. Insufficient sleep increases the risk of depression as much as 5 times. In fact, sleep deprivation is among the first sings of depression. It makes the depression worse. 2005 Sleep in America poll of the National Sleep Foundation revealed that the people who were diagnosed with depression were more likely to sleep 6 hours or less at night.


Because of insufficient sleep, your body doesn't get opportunity to recover from every day stress. So, the stress accumulates and the body remains at a high level of anxiety. This makes you highly sensitive and irritable to slightly negative situations.

Ages Your Skin

Missing just one night sleep can cause puffy eyes, dark circles and sallow skin. If this continues for few nights, then these problems can become permanent. You can also experience lackluster skin and fine lines across the face. Lack of sleep causes the body to produce more cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol breaks down the protein in skin, which helps the skin to stay smooth and elastic.

Video of The Dangers of Sleep Deprivation from youtube:


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