25 Horrible Things That Happen If You Don't Get Enough Sleep

LAUREN F FRIEDMAN FEB. 7, 2014, 12:24 PM In our 24/7 culture, sleep loss is a major problem. Back in 1942, we averaged almost 8 hours of sleep a night — now that's down to 6.8. (Seven to 9 hours per night are what's generally recommended.) Almost 40% of Americans get less than 7 hours of sleep a night, a recent Gallup poll found, and an estimated 70 million Americans have a sleep disorder. Everyone knows that it's important to get enough sleep — but you may not realize just how many things can go wrong when you don't. Here are 25 unfortunate risks of partial and total sleep deprivation , some more common than others.

1. Irritability
"Complaints of irritability and [emotional] volatility following sleepless nights" are common, a team of Israeli researchers observed. They put those complaints to the test by following a group of underslept medical residents. The study found that the negative emotional effect of disruptive events — things like being interrupted while in the middle of doing something — were amplified by sleep loss. Source: Sleep, 2005

2. Headaches
Scientists don't yet know exactly why sleep deprivation leads to headaches — but it's a connection doctors have noticed for more than a century. Migraines can be triggered by sleepless nights, and 36 to 58% of people with sleep apnea wake up with "nondescript morning headaches." Source: Headache, 2003; Headache, 2005

But even subjects who were allowed to sleep for 4 hours a night had an elevated heart rate when compared to those getting 8 hours. 2012 . Source: International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health. a marker of heart disease risk. the more visual errors you'll encounter. Nature Communications. Weight gain People who are underslept seem to have hormone imbalances that are tied to increased appetite.3. The longer you are awake. Nature Neuroscience. from roughly 7:30 to 8:30. Source: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. a greater response to indulgent treats. and the more likely you are to experience outright hallucinations. 2004. Education Next. Source: Journal of the American College of Cardiology. but not nearly enough to cancel out the many excess calories you consume when exhausted. 2012 4. more cravings for high-calorie foods. Heart disease When researchers kept people awake for 88 hours. Source: Nature. 2013. this isn't true if they are kept awake after they try it the first time — even if they sleep again before doing it again. their blood pressure went up — no big surprise there. Short-term memory is a crucial component of learning. Inability to learn Sleepiness has long been an issue among adolescents. PLOS Medicine. increases standardized test scores by at least 2 percentile points in math and 1 percentile point in reading. 2004. 1999. In another study. double vision. One study of middle school students found that "delaying school start times by one hour." But it's not just kids. and dimness. 2009. Poor vision Sleep deprivation is associated with tunnel vision. Concentrations of C-reactive protein. 2012. 2000. increased in those fully and partially deprived of sleep. researchers found that while people tend to improve on a task when they do it more than once. and a dampened ability to control their impulses — a very dangerous combination. PNAS. 2013 5. Sleep Medicine Reviews. PLOS ONE. 2010 6. It's true that you burn more calories when awake. and sleep deprivation significantly impaired the ability of adult volunteers to remember words they'd been shown the day before.

Overproduction of urine When people sleep. and their reactions slowed down. this normal slowdown doesn't happen. in adults. it's tied to what's called nocturia — the need to use the bathroom many times during the night. The FASEB Journal. But when someone is sleep deprived. Source: American Journal of Physiology." This condition may be linked to bed wetting in children and. while others were not. Those who had slept did better the second time — those who had not did worse. the body slows down its normal urine production. Distractedness Having trouble paying attention to what you're reading or listening to? Struggling with anything that requires you to truly focus? "Attention tasks appear to be particularly sensitive to sleep loss. If you want to stay alert and attentive." researchers have noted. Source: The Journal of Neuroscience. When researchers gave West Point cadets two tests that require quick decision-making. 2009. some were allowed to sleep between the tests. sleep is a requirement." researchers concluded. Source: Sleep. Source: American Journal of Physiology. leading to what researchers call "excess nocturnal urine production. 1996 9. where when you get an open wound of some kind it doesn't always get infected immediately? Prolonged sleep deprivation and even one night of sleeplessness can impede your body's natural defenses against microorganisms. 1993. Economic risk-taking Planning to make some changes to your portfolio? You might want to make sure you're well-rested. American Journal of Physiology. Asian Journal of Sports Medicine. Infection You know that great thing your immune system does. This is why most people don't have to pee in the night as much as they do during the day. A study in college athletes found similar results. 2011 10. you enter "an unstable state that fluctuates within seconds and that . 2010. 2012 11. Slowness Your reaction time is severely impeded when you don't get enough sleep.7. "A single night of sleep deprivation evoked a strategy shift during risky decision making such that healthy human volunteers moved from defending against losses to seeking increased gains. Otherwise. 2012 8.

those who had slept normally had levels of Hepatitis A antibodies almost twice as high as those who'd been kept awake. Source: Psychosomatic Medicine. 2003. those who had gotten less than 7 hours of sleep in the two weeks prior were almost 3 times more likely to get sick than those who'd had 8 or more hours of sleep. When a group of 153 people were exposed to a common cold. Seminars in Neurology. and this doesn't work quite as well. Four weeks later. Impaired speech Severe sleep deprivation might make you sound like a bumbling idiot — much like having way too much to drink. International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health. 2012 13. 1997.cannot be characterized as either fully awake or asleep. slowly. Ten of them got 8 hours of sleep the following night. 2010 14. [and] indistinctly. "Sleep should be considered an essential factor contributing to the success of vaccination. it concludes that the effect might be specific to certain diseases. In one small study." and your ability to pay attention is variable at best. Less effective vaccines Vaccines work by spurring your body to create antibodies against a specific virus." Source: Sleep. Source: Archives of Internal Medicine. "They were not able to properly express and verbalize their thoughts. Source: Archives of Italian Biology. But when you don't sleep." one study noted." the Hep A researchers wrote. your immune system is compromised.5 times more likely to catch a cold than those who had been peacefully slumbering 98-100% of the time they were in bed. 2009 12. Colds If you're wondering why you're sick all the time and seem to pick up every bug that travels around the office. it's probably because you're not getting enough sleep. 2001. 2011. 2009 . they spoke monotonously. 19 people were vaccinated against Hepatitis A. How well you sleep is also a factor – those who had spent 92% of their time in bed actually asleep were 5. "Volunteers kept awake for 36 hours showed a tendency to use word repetitions and clichés. BMC Immunology. Journal of Immunology. while the rest pulled an all-nighter. Another study found that a sleepless night did not have a long-term effect on immunity after a flu vaccine.

Car accidents Drowsy driving is often compared to drunk driving: You really shouldn't do either. and falling asleep at the wheel are particularly common. which affects an estimated 10-15% of people in the U. But recently. Regular sleep loss also makes you more likely to develop both IBD and inflammatory bowel syndrome. Sleep Medicine. Depleted sex drive Testosterone is an important component of sexual drive and desire in both women and men. Source: World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2010. medical residents. Behavioral Brain Research. 2009.S. Sleep deprivation and disturbed sleep. Gastrointestinal problems One in 250 Americans suffer from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)." Source: Seminars in Neurology. This makes sense: Pain can wake you up in the night and make it hard to fall asleep in the first place. 2011 18. and others required to stay awake for long periods of time "show an increased risk of crashes or near misses due to sleep deprivation. researchers have begun to suspect that sleep deprivation may actually cause pain or at least increase people's sensitivity to pain. Source: American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. and people suffering from sleep apnea are at particular risk. Brain Research. Source: Journal of Sleep Research. Sleep Medicine Reviews. Pain People in pain — especially those suffering from chronic pain — tend not to get enough sleep. Pilots. but often underestimated. 2001. consequently. And patients with Crohn's disease were twice as likely to experience a relapse when they weren't getting enough sleep. 2006 . and sleep deficiencies make its symptoms much worse. 2007. truck drivers. their pain threshold — the amount of painful stimulus they were able to endure — was lower. "Motor vehicle accidents related to fatigue." one review concluded. Journal of Sexual Medicine. drowsy driving. while being awake decreases them. 2009 17. are associated with reduced libido and sexual dysfunction. 2013 16. Sleeping increases testosterone levels. 2009. One study found that after research subjects were kept awake all night.15.

2013 . Memory problems Sleep disruptions in the elderly can lead to structural changes in the brain that are associated with impaired long-term memory — and sleep-related memory deficits have been observed in the general adult population as well. 1998. People playing sports that require precision — shooting. a biomarker for Alzheimer's. 2011. etc. AAOHN Journal. But since disrupted circadian rhythm and reduced immunity are direct results of sleep deprivation. 2005.19. Diabetes Being awake when your body wants you to be asleep messes with your metabolism. most notably colon and breast cancers. sailing. — also make more mistakes when they've been awake for extended periods of time. it's no surprise that preliminary research seems to indicate that people who don't get enough sleep are at increased risk for developing certain kinds of cancer. 2003. As early as 1924. and different kinds of cancer behave differently. Pathologie-biologie. One study found that one sleepless night contributed to a 20-32% increase in the number of errors made by surgeons. 2012 20. researchers noticed that people who slept more forgot less. Annals of Internal Medicine. Sloppiness Most people notice that when they're sleepy. 2007 21. Source: Journal of Applied Physiology. Cancer. cycling. 2011 22. Source: Cell Signal. "Interventions to extend sleep duration may reduce diabetes risk. 2013. Source: The Lancet. Nature Neuroscience." one study in adolescents concluded. JAMA Neurology. 2003. Cancer Scientists are just beginning to investigate the relationship between sleep and cancer. And four large studies in adults found a strong association — though not a cause-effect relationship — between regular sleep loss and the risk of developing diabetes. 2012. Physiology & Behavior. Source: Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2012. which in turn increases your risk for insulin resistance (often called "pre-diabetes") and type 2 diabetes. Poor sleep and not enough of it have also been linked to higher levels of β-Amyloid. Sleep. they're not at the top of their game. even after controlling for other habits that might be relevant.

Put more simply: We all die eventually. While differences in income up to $60. Journal of Affective Disorders. Sleep Medicine Reviews. Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Genetic disruption A 2013 study shed some light on why sleep is tied to so many different aspects of our health and wellness. Some genes that typically cycle according to a daily (circadian) pattern stopped doing so. 2010.23. although it's hard to say whether happy people sleep better. Unhappiness and depression In a classic study led by Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman. and preliminary research suggests that treating sleep problems may successfully treat depressive symptoms. a poor night's sleep was one of two factors that could ruin the following day's mood. 2010 . 2013 24. 2004. Insomniacs are also twice as likely to develop depression. better sleep makes people happier. 2011 25. Death Many health problems are associated with sleep deprivation and poor sleep. Behavioral Sleep Medicine. Source: Science. a group of 909 working women kept detailed logs of their moods and day-to-day activities. Source: Sleep. researchers found that more than 700 genes were not behaving normally. but sleeping too little — or even too much — is associated with a higher risk of dying sooner than you otherwise might. 2009.000 had little effect on happiness. What does this mean? Just one week of less-than-ideal sleep is enough to make some of your genetic activity go haywire. Poor sleep actually disrupts normal genetic activity. but here's the big one: People who consistently do not get 7-8 hours of sleep are more likely to die during a given time period.) Another study reported higher marital happiness among women with more peaceful sleep. (The other was tight deadlines at work. or — most likely — some combination of the two. After one week of sleeping less than 6 hours per night. while others that don't normally follow a daily pattern began doing so. including some that help govern immune and stress responses.

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