Lack of Sleep: The Effects On Your Body

· 20th September 2018
Insufficient sleep is a habit of our current culture where stress, technology, and sedentary lifestyles affect our biological clocks. Find out more about the effects of lack of sleep on your body.

Our habits have changed drastically over the last few years and for many reasons. Undoubtedly, one of the practices that’s gradually disappearing, is getting adequate rest. The constant distractions and life’s breakneck pace leave little time for sleep. This leads to negative effects on your body. As such, your health maybe paying the price.

Cell phones, computers, televisions, and the impossible task of disconnecting from a fast-paced lifestyle are preventing our ability to rest. According a news report, the World Sleep Society has concluded that 45 percent of individuals now have a sleep disorder.

In fact, these rates are already reaching epidemic levels. Every day, fewer people seem to realize that sleep is as, if not more, important than eating. Furthermore, those who are aware of the importance, don’t put it into practice.

What are the effects of lack of sleep on your body? Keep reading to learn more.

The effects on your body of lack of sleep

woman sleeping in bed daylight

A lack of sleep produces many negative effects and these can lead to more serious disorders. Some of the most common ones include:

Brain degeneration: when you sleep, your brain regenerates cells, which allows it to recover energy and prevent disease. With a lack of sleep, it can’t recover energy efficiently and this can lead to dementia.

Loss of body mass: those who sleep less than five hours per night, experience a loss in their body mass index. On average, around 3.6 percent of BMI is lost due to deficiencies in the metabolic processes, that only occur at night.

Eating disorders: generally, people who don’t rest enough have poor eating habits. When you sleep, your body generates leptin, (a hormone) that makes you feel full and regulates body fat. If your body lowers leptin production, this will result in eating at odd hours and storing body fat. What’s more, this also promotes the development of conditions, such as diabetes and obesity.

Lack of reflexes: cognitive performance and motor coordination decrease significantly when an individual hasn’t slept enough. According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the effects from a lack of sleep, lead to more than 40,000 injuries each year.

Reduced performance: the decrease in lucidity and energy from a lack of sleep results in a significant reduction in your abilities. Those who don’t rest enough, don’t perform as well at school or work.

Why are we sleeping less and less?

There are many causes of this 21st century condition. The first is related to bad sleep habits. This includes using a cell phone or computer before sleeping and watching television before falling asleep.

man looking at mobile in bed effects of little sleep

It’s also due to the decline of perception in the ganglion cells, in your retina. They tell your brain whether it’s day or night. Since they’re very sensitive to short-wavelength light (for example, from cell phones or screens), your biological clock can be affected and confused about what time it is.

Furthermore, physical inactivity also plays a role. As most people don’t make time for 30 minutes of daily exercise (as recommended by the WHO), the need to rest their body isn’t as imperative.

Finally, we also need to mention diet, as it’s a relevant factor. Consuming caffeine, alcohol, or tobacco excessively can alter your circadian (sleep) rhythm. As such, we recommend limiting your intake or, if possible, cutting it out altogether.

Tips for bedtime

If you’re used to having a lack of sleep, these tips can really help you to change your bad habits:

  • Do not postpone your rest: don’t work overtime if you can leave it for another day. When your body asks for a break, it’s important to listen and restart the next day with more energy.
  • Sleep is not recoverable: sleeping more on weekends to recover what you may have “lost” during the week is a myth. Your sleep rhythm must be kept at a daily constant.
  • Avoid eating too much at night: your body won’t consume that energy and will instead, store it as fat. In addition, your vital functions slow down when you’re sleeping. As such, your digestive process isn’t as efficient which can lead to digestive issues.
  • Disconnect: one or two hours before going to bed, put aside your computer, mobile, or any other electronic device that keeps you awake. Rather, opt for a book or another activity that will let you relax.

Clearly, there are many effects from a lack of sleep. Therefore, it’s important to take precautions, modify your daily habits and enjoy adequate sleep. In the long run, you’ll notice the difference in your daily life and your body will really thank you.