Clumsy, moody, irritated, tired and can’t concentrate? You must’ve pulled an all-nighter.
Sleep deprivation occurs when you don’t get sufficient sleep time and quality. Nowadays, it would seem, we rarely achieve the recommended 8 hours of sleep.
The effects of acute sleep deprivation on physical, emotional and cognitive health are well-established. It decreases your motivation and working memory, causes obesity and lowers your job performance. Several sources of evidence have linked poor sleep hygiene with lower cognitive and physical performance, from fatigue to mood changes.
This science-based article examines the causes of acute sleep deprivation and provides you with a list of its visible and behind the scenes effects on your overall health.
- What Causes Sleep Deprivation
To cut a long story short, sleep deprivation is caused by failure to obtain the necessary amount or quality of sleep. This can be induced by a certain number of risk factors which include caffeine intake, stimulants, shift work, excessive noise or light, anxiety, pain, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, technology and use of certain medicines. Other notable reasons are associated with sleep disorders such as restless leg syndrome, circadian rhythm or insomnia.
Sleep is a biologic process of paramount importance to your body. While sleeping, your body regulates your brain and metabolism and balances the functioning of immune and cardiovascular systems, which contribute to enhancing your overall quality of life.
With poor sleep hygiene, your brain and body don’t get their well-deserved, which negatively affects your cognitive and physical performance.
A 2017 study on the short and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption found that sleep deprivation increases risk factors for cancer by accelerating tumor formation and have a strong correlation with depression.
Sleep deprivation symptoms are vast and include:
- Reduced executive function and reaction time;
- Reduced working memory;
- Cardiovascular system
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.
People with poor sleep hygiene are more likely to have higher cholesterol levels, higher body mass index (BMI) and an increased risk of hypertension, heart attack and stroke. Indeed, a 2019 studyon autonomic response to sleep deprivation found that people who work night-time shifts experience reduced heart rate variability and increased levels of basal cortisol, which are cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Recent studies revealed relationships between sleep deprivationand obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Poor sleep hygiene affects your metabolism in various ways, notably by inducing impaired insulin sensitivity and increasing food intake. The latter appears to be the result of decreased leptin and increased ghrelin hormones, which regulate your feelings of hunger and fullness, and thus significantly influence your energy balance. Leptin suppresses food intake and sends signals to your brain telling it you’re full. When you’re deprived of sleep, your brain decreases leptin and increases ghrelin, which is a meal initiator. It has been shown that people who are leptin-resistant are more likely to gain weight and develop weight-related complications.
Stress is a very complex situation in which you feel like you have 6 hours of work to do in about 10 minutes. Woof! Nobody wants to relive those stressful all-nighters back in college.
The relationship between sleep deprivation and stress is reciprocal. Accumulative pieces of evidence have shown that lack of sleep affects stress hormone levels, and thus cognitive functions and mood.
Sleep deprivation has been associated with increased tumor growth speed. Exposure to light at night prompts your body to produce higher levels of reproductive hormones and, conversely, lower levels of melatonin. The latter is an anti-tumor agent and plays a key role in sleep and wake cycles. A certain number of studies showed that decreasing melatonin levels in your blood may increase the risk of developing cancer.