11 Symptoms, Side Effects, and Health Issues Related to a Poor Night’s Sleep
Poor sleep does more than make us tired and irritable. It has a profound effect on our health in both the long and short term. Here are eleven of the many things that go wrong when the quality and duration of your sleep are cut short.
Tiredness and Fatigue
Sleep is your body’s time to recharge, repair, and reset. When you do not sleep, it throws all your systems off track. In fact, even short term sleep restrictions lead to hypertension, activation of the sympathetic nervous system, impairment of glucose control, and increased inflammation. That feeling of exhaustion is both a symptom of that wear and tear and a warning from the body that you need to power down.
Poor Concentration and Memory
Sleep loss affects our attention, memory, and decision making ability. When you lose even a couple hours of sleep, your brain has to work harder to power through the day and its mounting workload.
Increase in Errors and Mistakes
Fatigue and reduced cognitive ability leads to various errors in judgement, reaction time, and adapting to stressful situations. This goes beyond spilling your coffee or making a mistake in an email. In a report regarding various sleep studies, the Sleep Foundation reports:
Overly sleepy employees are 70% more likely to have a workplace accident than those who are well rested.
Employees who report prolonged periods of lack of sleep are 50% more likely to die in the workplace due to a workplace accident.
Drivers who get 6 hours or less sleep are 33% more likely to have a vehicular accident.
Lack of sleep increases cortisol in the body, which leads to increased stress and irritability. This makes the mistakes, reduced cognitive ability, and the physical exhaustion all the more noticeable. It can also lead to high blood pressure and hypertension.
Loss of Interest in Usual Activities
Our hobbies and routines take energy. When you lose out on sleep, the combination of lower energy, impaired cognitive ability, and the stress-inducing cortisol impairs your drive to do anything. This leads to a loss of interest in the things that you used to take pleasure in, a condition otherwise called anhedonia, or emotional flatlining. Studies show that quality sleep can help reverse this condition.
Anxiety, Depression, and Mood Disorders
Exhaustion, hormonal imbalances, and the frustrations of trying to function on poor sleep can contribute to the development of mood disorders like generalized anxiety and major depression.
Many of these disorders are bidirectional- por sleep makes the symptoms worse, and the mood disorder affects sleep quality. This can create a downward spiral if left untreated.
Reduced Immune Response
The quality of your sleep has a direct effect on your central nervous system and the production of your immune systems defense network.
Mayo Clinic’s Eric J Olsen MD affirms that poor sleep directly affects your health. He states “During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep.”
Dr Olsen also recommends 7 to 8 good quality sleep a night to optimise your immune function.
Sleep affects the hormones used to control cravings and hunger. Poor sleep quality is linked to higher obesity and Body Mass Indexes (BMI).
Poor sleep leads to impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), which can complicate pre-existing diabetic conditions or contribute to developing diabetes. If not properly regulated, this poor glucose regulation can cause lasting damage to the heart, kidney, and other organs.
The strain of all the factors above can drastically affect the heart. In a study published by the Journal of American College and Cardiology, it was found that people with poor sleep habits had a 20% higher chance of heart attacks.
Increased Mortality Rates
First, you can not die from not sleeping. Our bodies have defense mechanisms to force the body to sleep. However, all the factors above lead to poor health choices, risky behaviors, diseases, and more to shorten your lifespan. Whether it is heart issues from poor health or a fatal accident on a daily commute, poor sleep contributes to a 15% higher risk of fatalities.
Correcting Poor Sleep Habits is Vital to Your Health
These are just a few of the broadest symptoms and health issues related to poor sleep habits. If you are getting less than six hours or more than 9 hours of sleep a night, it is vital to counteract these hazards as soon as possible. Need a hand getting started? Here are a few of our handy resources.