What Happens If You Don't Sleep

A goodnight's sleep is very important to repair the wear and tear of the mind and the body. However, there are many people who can't sleep well. According to a survey conducted from 1999 to 2004, more than 40 million Americans were affected byover 70 types of sleep problems, and around 25 million of those had sleep troubles for several nights in a row! But, how much sleep do you need? And what happens if you don’t sleep enough? Let's find the answers.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

As for how much sleep you need, it is recommended that an average person should have a minimum of seven hours of sleep per day.National Sleep Foundation published a report that helps to determine the amount of sleep you need based on your age.

  • Newborns (0-3 months) need 14-17 hours' sleep;
  • Infants (4 to 11 months) need 12-15 hours' sleep;
  • Toddlers (1-2 years) need 11-14 hours' sleep;
  • Preschoolers (3-5 years) require 10-13 hours' sleep;
  • School-aged kids (6-13 years) need 9-11 hours' sleep;
  • Teenagers (14-17 years) require 8-10 hours' sleep;
  • Adults (18-64 years) need 7-9 hours' sleep;
  • Elders (over 65 years) need 7-8 hours' sleep.

What Happens If You Don't Sleep

Stimulants like coffee and electronic devices may keep you awake late at night, leading to sleep deprivation, which directly affects our health leads to serious consequents.

1. You Will Be Irritable

Late bedtimes can lead to a loss of self-control and make you aggressive, moody, impulsive and short-tempered. This results in symptoms similar to that of an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), like restlessness, inability to sit and complete the work assigned, unable to focus, or getting frequently distracted.

2. Accidents May Happen

Deprivation of sleep can lead to slow reaction and could be a major factor in many road accidents. Did you know that some of the biggest disasters, like the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, nuclear accident at Three Mile Island and the oil spill at Exxon Valdez, were due to lack of sleep? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in America more than 100,000 car accidents and 1500 airplane crashes take place every year because of fatigue (as a result of lacking sleep).

3. You Will Be Slow

A good sleep keeps your mind agile and improves your thinking and learning processes. However, if you don't sleep, you tend to become less attentive, lack concentration and alertness, and have an impaired reasoning and problem-solving ability. Still want to know more about what happens if you don't sleep? Just read on!

4. You're Prone to Serious Health Conditions

If you are not sleeping enough hours, you are more prone to heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, hypertension, strokes and diabetes. A reduction in your sleeping hours from seven to five doubles your risk of mortality due to heart diseases. You will suffer from anxiety, mental fatigue and stress, and also increase your chances of obesity. Besides, it reduces your immunity and makes you more prone to a number of respiratory viruses.

5. Sex Drive Will Be Reduced

People who are sleep-deprived have low libidos and express a lower interest in sex. You may lack energy, feel sleepy, or be much tensed, which can reduce your desire for sexual intercourse. Men who suffer from sleep apnea, a form of respiratory problem that can interrupt sleep, also face a sexual slump. These men have low testosterone levels, which can further decrease their libido. A low sex drive can put a strain on your relationship.

6. You'll Be Depressed

Lack of sleep can result in depression. Moreover, people suffering from insomnia are five times more likely to get depressed than those with enough sleep. It is a vicious cycle. On the other hand, if you treat your sleep problems, you could help in treating your depression and the symptoms associated with it and vice-versa.

7. You May Age More Quickly

Losing a few hours of sleep would cause easily noticeable fine lines, puffy eyes, sallow and lackluster skin along with dark circles under your eyes. Your body associates less sleep with stress and releases the stress hormone, cortisol. This hormone breaks down collagen, a skin protein that keeps your skin elastic and supple. Also, less sleep causes the body to release low amounts of growth hormones which help strengthen your bones and increase muscle mass. This is why lack of sleep ages you!

8. You'll Become Forgetful

When you rest, your body has different sleep patterns, called "sharp wave ripples". They are responsible for consolidating your memory. These ripples transfer the matter than you have learned throughout the day from the hippocampus to the neocortex region of the brain where long term memories are stored. These ripples occur during the deepest sleep levels. Reduced hours of sleep can disturb these waves and make you more forgetful.

9. You Gain Weight

If you sleep for less than six hours, you have a 30% higher chance of being obese than those who sleep normally. Lack of sleep is related to increased hunger and appetite. Also, there is a link between sleep and the hormones that control hunger. Ghrelin is the hormone that induces hunger, whereas leptin suppresses your appetite. A decrease in sleep activates the production of ghrelin hormone while suppressing the leptin hormonal levels. You then end up craving for high-carb and high-fat foods and you don't need us to tell you what happens when you binge eat.

10. Your Judgment Will Be Impaired

Impaired judgement is the last answer to "What happens if you don't sleep". Reduced sleep can lead to poor judgments and a wrong interpretation of events. This could hurt your ability to assess the situations correctly, make wise decisions and function properly. Under these circumstances, if you are subjected to performance related and mental alertness tests, you would definitely score very poorly.

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