people who have too much free time on their hands. We all try to squeeze
as many things into our daily schedule as possible. Theoretically, we
all know that we need more sleep, but there are so many matters that
require our urgent presence. But it turns out that we might be doing
ourselves a grave disservice.
It’s time to face the cold and cruel reality and recognize sleep
deprivation as the archenemy of our well-being. Raise your pillows! This
is your wake-up call (pun so absolutely intended).
Let’s take a look at what will happen if you neglect your sleep:
1. You will be ugly.
Shocking, isn’t it?! Well, not really. I can bet that you’ve never heard anyone complimenting your swollen eyelids, pale skin and droopy corners of the mouth. And that’s precisely what scientists from Karolinska Institute in Stockholm have confirmed in their study titled Cues of Fatigue: Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Facial Appearance.
Ten participants of the study were kept awake for 31 hours.
Subsequently, their before and after pictures were assessed by 40
observers. The verdict was, of course, unanimous. All of the
participants were perceived as less health, sadder, and more fatigued after the 31-hour period of sleeplessness.
2. You will be drunk.
You might not be literally drunk, but it has been estimated that “17 hours of sustained wakefulness was equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.05%.” (Drowsy Driving Prevention by Siobhan Kuhar, MD, PhD, DABSM).
Sleepiness has comparable impact on our mind to alcohol (minus fun
factor of course)–it decreases awareness, impairs judgment and slows
3. You will be less innovative.
Are you planning to create a next big thing in the likes of Twitter
or Facebook? There is a slim chance that you’ll succeed while suffering
from sleep deprivation.
Research conducted on a military personnel who were kept awake for two days revealed significantly reduced ability to come up with ideas
about given topics [May, J., Kline, P. (1987) Measuring the effects on
cognitive abilities of sleep loss during continuous operations. British
Journal of Psychology].
4. Your resting blood pressure will increase.
There is a growing body of research confirming that sleep deprivation leads to increased blood pressure
(Fujikawa et al., 2009). What’s more, for people with hypertension as
little as even half a night of sleep can lead to the same result
(Lusardi et al., 1996).
5. You will be dumber.
I think that we all have experienced it at some point in our
lives–even small amounts of sleeplessness affect our cognitive
A study conducted in 2004 showed that those deprived of sleep for 24 hours have trouble remembering, and difficulty concentrating. So say goodbye to proper reasoning and your problem-solving skills! What’s more, even one night of sleep loss will reduce your ability to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information.
6. You will get sick.
During sleep, the immune system produces cytokines–proteins which
combat various types of viruses. Their number increases when your body
needs protection from bacteria.
Sleep deprivation means that we are more prone to disease and virus attacks as
the level of cytokines drop (Susan Zafarlotfi, PhD, clinical director,
Institute for Sleep and Wake Disorders, Hackensack University Medical
7. You will look old.
That’s right. You can spend all you want on magical beauty products but it won’t help you if you’re sleep deprived.
Stress increases the production of a hormone called cortisol, which
increases sebum secretion contributes to the attacks of acne. Sleep
plays a key role in the process of skin regeneration. While you sleep,
stress hormones returnnormal levels and give cells time to repair
study included premenopausal women, 30-49 years, half of whom were
classified as having poor quality sleep. Several tests have confirmed
the dermal tissue of sleep deprived women have twice as many internal
indicators of aging, such as wrinkles, blemishes, low level of firmness and elasticity (Effects of Sleep Quality on Skin Aging and Function, University Hospitals Case Medical Center)
8. You will kill your sex drive.
If your libido drops, it is possible you are not getting enough
sleep. Fatigue, depleted energy and increased tension are usual
culprits. But for men with sleep apnea another factor comes into play.
A study published in 2002 (Lavie, P. Journal of Clinical
Endocrinology & Metabolism; vol 87: pp 3394-3398.) suggests that men
suffering from this condition have abnormally low levels of
9. You will get fat.
I know it’s a bit depressing, but it turns out that losing sleep can make you gain weight.
The fact that people who sleep are less likely to be overweight has
been confirmed by many studies (Stephanie M. Greer, Andrea N. Goldstein,
Matthew P. Walker. The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in
the human brain. Nature Communications, 2013; 4 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3259).
Research has shown that people who sleep less than four hours are more
likely to be obese by an average of than the ones who sleep normally.
Why is that?
Hormones. Those pesky hormones! Hunger signals in the brain are
controlled ghrelin leptin. Ghrelin sends a signal to the brain that
it’s to eat. On the other hand, leptin, a hormone produced in adipose
tissue, reduces appetite causes the feeling of satiety. we are tired,
the level of ghrelin in our bloodstream increases while the level of
10. You will feel cold.
Make sure you have your jumper handy. Sleep deprivation slows down your metabolism, which in turn lowers your body temperature
(M Suzanne Stevens, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of
Neurology, Medical and Laboratory Director of Sleep Medicine Clinic, University of Kansas: Normal Sleep, Sleep Physiology, and Sleep Deprivation).
11. You will get depressed.
According to statistics, patients with sleep problems are more likely to develop a wide array of mood disorders. Take your pick: Irritability? Check. Mood swings? Check. Anxiety? Double check!
What’s more, the risk of depression among sleep
deprived patients is four times higher than among healthy subjects. If
the period of insomnia lasts long enough, it can even lead to suicidal thoughts (National Sleep Foundation: “Teens and Sleep,” “ABCs of ZZZZs — When you Can’t Sleep,” “2005 Adult Sleep Habits and Styles.”).
12. You will damage your bones.
Ok, I admit, it might be a little bit far-fetched. So far it’s been proven true among rats. In a 2012 study, researchers found changes to bone mineral density and bone marrow
in these little creatures after they were kept awake for 72 days. It’s
speculated that the inability to repair bone damage while being sleep
deprived might be also true for us (Everson CA, Folley AE, Toth JM., Chronically inadequate sleep results in abnormal bone formation and abnormal bone marrow in rats).
13. You will be clumsy.
Don’t even think about showing your friends cool butterfly knife
tricks after a night without proper shut-eye. According to Clete
Kushida, M.D., Ph.D., director of Stanford University Center for Human
Sleep Research, lack of sleep compromises our balance and depth perception, as well as dulls our reflexes. In other words, it’s bad for our motor skills.
14. You will be overly emotional.
Does the picture of this puppy brings tears to your eyes? Then get a
grip on yourself, or on the pillow since it turns out that lack of sleep
makes us emotionally volatile.
One of the studies conducted among 26 participants has showed a 60%
rise in the amygdala activity (compared to well-rested volunteers),
which is responsible for processing fear and anxiety (Seung-Schik Yoo,
Ninad Gujar, Peter Hu, Ferenc A. Jolesz and Matthew P. Walker, The human emotional brain without sleep — a prefrontal amygdala disconnect).
15. You will live shorter.
Numerous studies report that sleep deprivation causes increase in
mortality even after adjusting for other medical conditions that affect
sleep and death rates, such as obesity, alcohol and depression, as well
as for age, race, education and body mass index.
A 2010 study established that men who slept for less than six hours a night were four times more likely to die over a 14-year period (The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Insomnia with Short Sleep Duration and Mortality).
Time for a new resolution
I don’t know how about you, but I solemnly swear that I’ll at least try to sleep more. It’s worth it.
Need help? Here are some great tips to get some quality shut-eye.
Have you noticed any of these symptoms in yourself or maybe have some
interesting story to share as a warning? Let us know in the comments.
Featured photo credit: clock black church/Dan Shirley (Fishmonk) via rgbstock.com
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