The Quick Report

Here’s What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep

Numerous studies have identified the serious long-term effects that occur from sleep deprivation. Anything less than 7 hours of sleep per night can put your health at risk. Here are 10 negative effects from a lack of sleep. If you are experiencing any of these, you may want to talk to your doctor.

10. Memory Issues

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Photo by Sander Sammy

Different types of memory processing occur during specific stages of sleep. Studies suggest that sleep is vital for linking new memories to earlier ones and strengthening memories overall. Sleep plays a critical role in the formation and storage of long-term memories. A lack of sleep can have long-term negative effects on both your short- and long-term memory. 

9. Thinking and Concentration

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Photo by Bruce Mars

A lack of sleep negatively impacts the ability to concentrate, solve problems, or perform creative thinking. It’s harder to focus and easier to get confused. Studies have demonstrated attention span decreases while reaction time lengthens when someone doesn’t get enough sleep. Sleep-deprived people have difficulty taking in new information, as well as reacting to dangerous situations.

8. Mood Changes

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Photo by Christian Erfurt

Getting adequate sleep is crucial to mood regulation. Sleep deprivation can increase negative moods, while simultaneously decreasing positive moods. A lack of sleep can lead to increased irritability, frustration, anger, and sadness. There is a relationship between some mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, and sleeplessness. There are also links to suicide and risk-taking behavior.

7. Poor Balance and Coordination, Risk of Accidents

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Photo by Jon Flobrant

The lack of sleep can affect your balance and coordination. This makes you more prone to falls and other types of physical accidents. When you are drowsy during the daytime, you can lose focus during activities. This can lead to injuries from numerous causes, which include the risk of car accidents.

6. Weakened Immune System

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Photo by Kyle Glenn

Studies show sleep deprivation has a negative effect on the immune system. A lack of sleep can make people more susceptible to illness. Studies have shown that people who got less than seven hours of sleep nightly were three times more likely to contract the common cold than those who slept eight hours or more.

5. High Blood Pressure

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Photo by CDC

Sleeping helps regulate blood pressure, as it decreases during sleep. Studies have suggested that people who get less than six hours of sleep per night may experience higher blood pressure. People who already have high blood pressure may see it become worse with a lack of sleep. It’s believed sleep helps the body control hormones that control stress and metabolism.

4. Risk for Diabetes

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Restorative stage sleep helps the body maintain proper levels of insulin – a blood sugar-lowering hormone. Sleep deprivation over only a few days reverses this effect. People who don’t get enough sleep have higher blood sugar levels. This increases the risk for type 2 diabetes. Just 6 weeks of sleep deficit can cause these changes in the body, especially in women.

3. Weight Gain

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Photo by i yunmai

When you lack sleep, the hormones that tell your brain when you’re hungry and when you’re full get thrown off balance. This makes you more likely to overindulge, even when you’ve already eaten enough. When you’re sleep-deprived, your body creates less leptin, (the hormone that tells you you’re full) and more ghrelin (the hormone that tells you’re hungry).

Read More: Sleep Better With this Bedtime Routine

2. Low Sex Drive

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Photo by Alex Green

A lack of sleep interferes with hormonal function. For men, sleep loss can reduce testosterone levels, causing erectile dysfunction, lower sex drive, and infertility. For women, it can reduce libido and genital arousal. One study found that women’s libido increased by 14% for every additional hour of sleep they got.

Read More: The Science Behind Night Terrors and Sleep Paralysis

1. Risk of Heart Disease

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Studies show sleep deprivation can cause the body to rely on the sympathetic nervous system. This leads to the body releasing more adrenaline and cortisol. Studies show adults who sleep five hours or less have a 200-300% higher risk of coronary artery calcification. Sleep loss increases blood pressure and increases chemicals linked to inflammation. Both play roles in heart disease.

Read More: Can You Learn in Your Sleep? Scientists Say Yes