The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Body
Many in American culture talk about how difficult their jobs are. They talk about pulling all-nighters in order to finish a big project. We also talk about staying out late on the weekends or traveling all night. What effects do these episodes really have on us—especially if you chronically don’t get enough sleep?
If you can’t sleep well for just one night, you might just feel cranky for a day. But over time, sleep deprivation from sleep apnea or other causes reduces mental performance and may lead to health issues. It could leave you more open to illness by damaging your immune system, for example. And it can strip away your brain power.
Sleep Deprivation Issues by Category
Sleep deprivation can cause problems in more than a dozen areas shown below. People don’t want these negative effects. We just want the supposed benefits of being able to get more work or leisure time by cutting into our sleep time. But your work and leisure time are of lower quality when you’re sleep deprived.
Sleep deprivation over time can affect all the following and more:
- Mood: Too little sleep can make control of mood and temper more difficult. This can even turn into depression or chronic anxiety, if it is not addressed.
- Nervous System: Neurons and nerves can have a harder time sending and storing information.
- Mental Performance: You could have trouble concentrating while trying to solve problems or be creative. Sleep debt can cause impatience, which can lead to hasty, poor decisions.
- Memory: Sleep helps encode and store information for the long-term. It also helps us concentrate on short-term memory tasks. Poor sleep, then, makes learning more difficult, along with knowledge-based work and other activities.
- Physical Safety: Being chronically sleepy can lead to involuntarily drifting off to sleep. This is very dangerous while driving or operating other machinery—or even while cutting up food, jogging, and other activities.
- Balance: Balance and physical coordination can be lowered, leading to risks of trips, falls, and other mishaps.
- Digestion: The digestive system may not send enough of the hormone that tells you you are full. It may actually send more of the appetite hormone.
- Weight: Poor sleepers struggle to find the energy to exercise, which can affect their weight. Plus, sleep-deprived bodies release more insulin after each meal, which can lead to higher concentrations of bodily fat—and possibly lead to type 2 diabetes.
- Immune System: You could be more susceptible to viruses that cause the flu and the common cold.
- Blood Pressure: Sleeping less than five hours can lead to risky high blood pressure.
- Cardiovascular System: Your heart could be at risk both from high blood pressure and higher inflammation in the heart and blood vessels.
- Hormones: Hormone production can be interrupted. These chemical signals are involved in growth in children and repair of cells, tissues, and muscles in everyone.
- Libido: Both men and women can suffer from low libido. Men may have lower levels of testosterone.
Unfortunately, the very activities that we want to enjoy by sacrificing sleep—work projects, time with loved ones, and others—can become more difficult, unsafe, and even impossible because of sleep deprivation, which can be brought on by mild sleep apnea or lifestyle choices.
There are simple ways to prioritize sleep a little more and get those last few minutes that you need. Also, sleep dentistry now offers sleep apnea devices that can give instant relief to trouble with sleep breathing. Just call your sleep apnea dentist at Sleep Better Illinois now!
How to Sleep Better
Let’s focus on what you can do now. We all need hope and a plan. Here are a few steps and ideas that you can try:
- If you have obstructive sleep apnea symptoms, Take our sleep quiz here We can help determine if your symptoms are in need of further evaluation and if you will need to get a sleep study. Stop using caffeine sometime in the afternoon, possibly as early as 2 p.m. Experiment to find the time that helps lead to better sleep.
- Go to bed at the same time every single night, even Saturday night.
- Stop using electronic screens about an hour before bed.
- Turn down lights and reduce noise during the hour before bed.
- Avoid alcohol before bed.
- Find the right bedroom temperature that helps you sleep. You may need the air to be colder, though your feet may need to stay warm using socks or a blanket.
- Improve your blanket and pillow.
- Try different sleep positions, including lying on your side.
- Use your sleep apnea solutions more consistently, or ask for a sleep apnea mouthpiece that is easier to use than other devices, while eliminating breathing problems at night.
Starting a new bedtime routine may take some time, so don’t be discouraged if trying one of these things doesn’t affect your sleep after just one night. Give it time, and make an earnest effort to make these changes stick before you resort to over-the-counter sleep medications.
Is There a Sleep Apnea Test Near Me?
If you can’t sleep well, snore, or are fatigued during the day, you might have sleep apnea, and taking an at-home sleep study can determine if you do. Contact our Sleep Better Illinois dental sleep clinic for a FREE consultation with a sleep apnea specialist!