The Long-Term Health Effects Of Sleep Deprivation

We’ve all experienced a tough night’s sleep. Maybe you’ve been ill and kept awake, perhaps your newborn loves crying in the middle of the night or your neighbours plan random 3am parties. Whatever has kept you up in the past, we can all agree the following day is far from fun.

However, what you might not be aware of is what the long-term effects of sleep deprivation can do to your health.

Here is everything you need to know about the potential long-term effects of sleep deprivation.



Immune System

When you’re asleep, your immune system gets to work. It produces protective cytokines and infection battling antibodies. With these tools at its disposal, it fights off foreign substances in the body such as viruses and bacteria.

These protective substances also help you sleep, which gives your immune system more energy to defend against the foreign invaders.

If you are consistently sleep deprived, your immune system simply doesn’t have the time to fully protect you from bacteria and viruses. This means you are much more likely to get ill. Sleep Deprivation makes you most likely to develop chronic illnesses like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.



Digestive System

A number have studies have found a link between sleep deprivation and weight gain. Excluding activities like exercise, if you suffer from a lack of sleep, you are more likely to put on weight.

The explanation for this is two-fold. First of all, a lack of sleep lowers your levels of a hormone called leptin, which normally tells your brain that you’ve had enough to eat.

Secondly, it increases the levels of a biochemical called ghrelin which stimulates your appetite. This combination proves deadly and is the reason you tend to crave junk food either late in the evening, or the day after a bad nights sleep. To find out more, read this from our blog.



Cardiovascular System

Unsurprisingly, because you’re more likely to put on weight if you are sleep deprived, you’ll also be at more risk of developing issues with your cardiovascular system.

Much like your immune system, sleep plays an important role in allowing your body to heal and repair your blood vessels and heart.

Sleep deprivation is linked to things like high blood pressure and heart disease. According to the Harvard Medical School, for people with hypertension, just one sleep-deprived night can cause your blood pressure to climb all through the following day.



Mental Stability

After a particularly rubbish night’s sleep, you never feel at your sharpest, so suffering from long-term sleep deprivation could mean that feeling becomes regular.

According to WebMD, losing just one and a half hours off your regular sleep schedule can reduce your alertness by as much as 32%.

They also suggest that this loss of alertness, combined with the desire for more sleep can impair your memory and our ability to process information.



Combination of Issues

All of these issues can generally lead to a poorer quality of life. If you have a partner, struggling with sleep can cause relationship issues.

You might feel that if your health is affected, then your ability to undertake certain tasks is diminished. For example, playing sport, or playing with your children.