You know those people who brag about getting three hours of sleep per night and still wake up with the ability to function like the rest of us? No need to be jealous of them anymore. Sleep plays a vital role in our physical and mental health; it’s our body’s way of rebooting itself. When our heads don’t hit the pillow enough, it can significantly lower our quality of life. According to Harvard Medical School, sleeping less than five hours per night increases the risk of death from all causes by 15 percent. The first step to protecting your body is understanding how it works. Get to know the serious consequences of sleep deprivation.
Lack of sleep has major effects on our cardiovascular system. In fact, women who sleep less than six hours, or over nine hours per night have an elevated risk of coronary heart disease. Sleep deprivation can also elevate blood pressure levels in people with hypertension the following day.
We all wake up a little cranky after a restless night of tossing and turning, so consider what 30 restless nights will do to your mental state. Insufficient sleep can lead to depression, stress and anxiety—and understandably so. When your body is not performing at its best you feel lousy and irritable, and you may not realize that all you need is a little shut-eye.
You may think that alcohol is the answer when you’re trying to get some rest, but it actually has an adverse effect on your body. Yes, alcohol can induce sleep, but it’s only temporary. It can cause a disruption to your slumber later in the night while it’s being processed through your body, sending you back to square one.
Sleep deprivation has joined lack of exercise and overeating as a risk factor for obesity, but how can lack of sleep cause you to gain weight? Sleep gives our bodies an opportunity to secrete hormones that help control appetite, energy metabolism, and glucose processing. When we don’t get enough sleep, this process is disrupted. Insufficient sleep increases the secretion of insulin, a hormone that stores fat in our bodies and leads to weight gain.
We understand you have an overwhelming amount to do on your agenda, and there is never enough time in the day. One or two all-nighters may not hurt, but when it becomes a lifestyle, your body will eventually start to break down. Sleep is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. If you can see it as such, you won’t feel so guilty for those few extra hours of zzz’s.