There are many things that can lead to a reduction in hours of sleep—work, play, stress. Almost everyone deals with this at some point, but it is vital to know that when this becomes the normalcy, it can lead to a plethora of problems. Lots of people do not even know why getting a sufficient amount of sleep is even so important. Sure, it leads to a crummy feeling the next morning, and this is because the body is indicating that it cannot perform at its best.
1. Your immune system becomes compromised
A lack of sleep is known to cause the immune response to be lowered. One study has found that a reduction in the number of hours slept leads to a lower number of the cells in the body that are responsible for fighting off viruses and bacteria. The body's ability to fight off things like disease and inflammation are impaired, as the body does not have the time that it needs (when you're sleeping) to repair its defense system.
2. You put on weight
Those who are sleep deprived may see an increase in appetite. This is because not enough sleep will lower the levels of leptin in the body—this hormone suppresses the appetite, and an increase of ghrelin—this hormone increases food intake. So, those who are trying to either maintain their weight or lose weight should ensure that they are getting enough sleep, otherwise their body may be working against them.
3. Your heart weakens
When you sleep, your heart goes through a power use reduction, lowering blood pressure and heart rate which is vital for organ health. Not enough sleep means that the heart may not have enough time to lower the blood pressure to the ideal level. Those who sleep 5 or less hours per night are more likely to suffer from chronic raised blood pressure and heart disease than those who are sleeping for 7 or more hours.
4. Your libido and testosterone take a hit
One study found that in a group of men that slept 5 hours per night for one week not only had lower energy, but they were not able to focus and had a reduction in their sex drive. This lack of sleep may lead to raised stress hormones that will lower sex hormones, leading to a lower libido and sex drive. Not getting enough sleep will also lead to reduced testosterone levels. This translates into sufficient sleep bringing better levels of testosterone.
5. It shows in your skin
Lack of sleep leads to inflammation, which can lead to poor skin conditions like dryness, dullness, dark circles under the eyes, and spots. When sleeping, the brain gives off a chemical that is called Adenosine Triphosphate that is responsible for all cellular processes that happen throughout the day. Less sleep means that the body will contain less of this chemical, and less collagen will be produced.
6. Your brain becomes foggy
Lack of sleep will affect the ability to learn and retain much new information, leading to possible poor short and long-term memory. It also leads to poor decision making. The brain does not stop working completely when sleeping, it stays busy in deep sleep phases by repairing itself and building energy for the next day. Without giving the brain the time it needs to repair, it has a hard time functioning properly.
7. Stress levels rise
Lack of sleep messes with the cortisol levels in the body—this is the hormone that helps to manage stress. Cortisol also reduces collagen in the skin. This is not ideal, as collagen is what keeps the skin looking healthy, and it is what provides elasticity. One study has found that lack of sleep in young men was followed by a 12 to 24 hours delay in the return to dormancy of cortisol secretion.
Lack of sleep over a long period of time can lead to so much more problems. If any of the things listed seem to be familiar, perhaps consider a few lifestyle changes to ensure that there is time for a sufficient amount of sleep to ensure that the body can recover from the previous day. While it is not life-threatening to have a few nights of little sleep, it should not be a habit.