Sleep is immensely important for proper mind and body function as well as improving your health and has many other immense benefits. You can choose to forfeit the benefits of sleep, but are you willing to deal with the effects of sleep-deprivation? Here are some of these effects:
Although sleepiness cannot directly cause depression, its effects closely mimic the symptoms of depression and make you more vulnerable to falling into it. You can say that if it looks like a duck, moves like a duck and sounds like a duck, then it becomes a duck. Insomnia, which is lack of sleep, is the sleeping disorder with the strongest link to depression and oddly enough studies have shown that people with insomnia are five times more likely to fall into depression than those who don’t suffer from the condition.
The relationship between insomnia and depression is negatively mutual. This implies that the two conditions apparently feed off each other, that is; insomnia aggravates depression while increased depression makes it harder to sleep.
Impairing cognitive functions
Lack of sleep affects our cognitive functionality by lowering our attention and concentration span, reducing alertness and affecting our ability to reason and solve problems. This makes it extremely difficult to be present in class or meet your targets at the office which ensures your day almost all goes to waste. This is because you find yourself drifting off or finding information to be unusually hard and difficult to understand.
Have you ever had an experience where you were struggling to understand something you were studying in the evening and upon revisiting it the next morning it seemed far easier? This was not a fluke. Studies have shown that at night, some sleep cycles help consolidate memories in the mind as well as process information obtained during the day. This emphasizes the importance of sleep in not only remembering what you learn during the day but processing and internalizing this information.
Sleep enables both our mind and body to relax and rest. The coordination between mind and body is what governs our motor functions from walking, talking, moving our hands and all other such functions. Sleep deprivation slows our mind processing capability down as well as making our movements sluggish and this combination can prove to be disastrous.
One of the major causes of road accidents is drivers either falling asleep on the wheel or being too drowsy to have an adequate reaction time to events on the road due to fatigue caused by sleep deprivation. This has led to thousands of sudden deaths and injuries on the road. Poor mind-body coordination is a large work hazard in industries with machine ware because one misstep could severely injure one or more people.
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Accelerated skin aging
Some of the telltale signs of lack of sleep include having eye bags, sallow skin and faint dark circles under the eyes, which is easily remedied by getting enough rest. Studies show however, that it goes far deeper than this and that chronic sleep deprivation may result in permanent dark circles under the eyes, lackluster skin among other skin symptoms that make you appear older.
This is because lack of sleep leads to a hormonal imbalance in the body, where it produces too much cortisol, which is the stress hormone and too little of the growth hormone. Cortisol in excess amounts breaks down the collagen in our system, which is the protein responsible for keeping the skin elastic and smooth. Too little of the growth hormone leads to reduced increase in muscle mass, thin skin, weak bones and also inhibits tissue repair.
A 2004 study showed that people who sleep for under six hours a day are 30% more likely to develop obesity than those who get between seven and nine hours of sleep daily. This may be due to the fact that sleep has been proven to be directly linked to the two peptides that regulate our appetite. Short sleep time has been shown to increase levels of ghrelin, which stimulates hunger while simultaneously lowering levels of leptin, which suppresses appetite.
This means that you are always hungry but don’t have much of an appetite which leads to cravings for high-sugar, high-fat and high-carb foods which are all directly associated with weight gain and lifestyle diseases like high blood pressure and obesity.
As mentioned above, sleep deprivation pushes an individual into very poor eating habits, leading to development of a diet filled with food with high carb and sugar content. Keeping this diet then increases your chances of developing common lifestyle diseases such as; heart disease and failure, irregular heart rhythm, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes, among others. In fact, some studies have estimated that over 80% of people who have insomnia also have another existing health condition.These health complications often lead to a lot of time spent in and out of hospital and early death. In addition to this,the treatment required to effectively manage said diseases is life-long and quite expensive. This implies that as your health deteriorates, so does your financial capacity, which often affects not only an individual but the entire family.
Life is moving very fast and we are all just trying to catch up by working longer hours, reading more and many other activities. However, it is not worth risking your wellbeing in pursuit of these things by failing to give your body enough time to rest and recuperate. We need to value our sleep as much as we do going to the gym or making the next thousand. Get that comforter you’ve been meaning to buy, make your bed more comfortable by buying that new purple mattress you saw on TV, get thicker curtains for your bedroom and give your sleep-life as much attention and importance as you do your other aspects of health.