Exploring the Effects of Sleep Deprivation

A good night’s sleep should be considered in the same way as regular exercise and eating healthily. Everyone should be aiming for a minimum of seven hours’ sleep, with eight being the ideal amount. But what actually is sleep deprivation, and how can it affect your health?

What is Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep deprivation has a direct impact on how we think and feel. While the short-term effects are more obvious, persistent sleep deprivation can increase the risk of physical and mental health problems in the long run.  It’s crucial to maximise your nightly sleep to avoid the sleep deprivation symptoms that follow.

Short Term Effects

Lack of Alertness

There are many effects of sleep deprivation on the brain, one of which is lack of alertness. Not getting enough sleep leaves you feeling drowsy and with less ability to focus. This is because your cognitive thought process is negatively affected, and it takes longer for your brain to assess a situation.

This becomes particularly dangerous when it comes to things like driving. With slower reaction times, the likelihood of getting into a car accident increases dramatically.

Impaired Memory

During sleep, your brain processes memories throughout the day for both short and long-term recall. Not getting enough sleep has a double effect in this respect. First, it means that during the day, you’re less aware and therefore less able to obtain and store key information.

It also means that at night, your brain is unable to process and store memories to the same extent as it would on a full night of rest. It isn’t given the same chance to process, so you may find that your memory worsens when you’ve had less sleep.

For more information on the process of memory formation and the role sleep has, have a look at our blog: Why is REM Sleep Important?

Quality of Life

Lack of sleep may also mean you find it difficult to engage in routine everyday activities or exercise. You may find it difficult to concentrate, make sloppy mistakes, and require coffee after coffee just to get through the day until you can crawl back into bed at night.

Long Term Health Effects

Type 2 Diabetes

A lack of sleep is considered one of the major risk factors in type 2 diabetes, as poor sleep has been linked to high blood sugar levels due to its effect on insulin production.

High blood sugar results in an overproductive kidney, causing frequent trips to the toilet throughout the night and resulting in disrupted sleep. High blood sugar can also produce headaches, thirst, and exhaustion, which can make it difficult to fall asleep.

Heart Attack or Stroke

The risk of a heart attack is increased when people don’t get enough sleep. People who slept less than 5 hours per night had a 20% increased risk of a heart attack. REM sleep is associated with increased stress and activity. Inadequate sleep can throw these stages off, increasing the risk of a heart attack. 

Frequent sleep interruptions can also increase cardiac stress and lead to a heart attack since both heart rate and blood pressure can spike suddenly upon awakening.

In research studies, lack of sleep has been correlated with a greater likelihood of having a stroke. Sleep deprivation increases blood pressure which is the leading risk factor for strokes. In addition, by contributing to plaque build-up in the arteries, insufficient sleep may make it easier for blockages to occur and cause mini-strokes or strokes.

Weight Gain and Obesity

Sleep deprivation is also linked to increased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone; the anxiety, tension, and frustration linked to this hormone often contribute to emotional eating and bad nutritional habits. This in turn can make you sleep worse, ending in a negative cycle.

Ghrelin, another hormone released in the stomach can make people feel hungrier resulting in overconsumption of food.  Overeating can disrupt sleep by disrupting digestion and increasing the risk of heartburn.

How to Fix Sleep Deprivation with Mattressman

Getting a comfortable, full night of sleep is key, and the first step to doing so is with the right mattress.

At Mattressman, we offer a range of mattresses to provide you with the best night’s sleep. Help prevent your sleep deprivation with the mattress that suits you best.