Ever spent a night tossing and turning in bed? If yes, then you know how difficult it gets to function properly the next day. Apart from feeling grumpy, sleep deprivation has other serious effects on you.

How much sleep do we need?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the following amount of sleep is required by respective age groups:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours each day 
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours 
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
  • Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours 
  • School-age children (6-13): 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
  • Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
  • Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours 

 

Effects of Sleep deprivation

Everyone must have undergone the lethargy, short temper and lack of focus that often follow a poor night’s sleep.

A random night without sleep makes you feel exhausted and grumpy the next day, but it won’t harm your well-being.

Ongoing lack of sleep can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness, emotional difficulties, poor job performance, obesity and a lot more. It drains your mental abilities and puts your physical health at real risk.

After numerous insomniac nights, the mental consequences become more severe. It will be hard to concentrate and contemplate. You’ll feel moody. The danger of damage and accidents also increases.

If sleep deprivation lasts long enough, you can begin to have hallucinations that are seeing or hearing something that isn’t there. A lack of sleep can also trigger insanity in people who have bipolar disorder. Other psychological risks include:

  • unpredictable behaviour
  • nervousness
  • depression
  • paranoia
  • self-destructive thoughts

You may also end up experiencing microsleep in the day. During these events, you might fall asleep for a few seconds or minutes without realizing it.

Microsleep is out of your control and can be greatly dangerous if you are driving. It can also make you more likely to injury due to falls.

Apart from eating too much and not exercising, sleep deprivation is another factor responsible for being overweight and obese. Sleep affects the levels of two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, which dominate feelings of hunger.
Leptin tells your brain that you have had enough food. Without enough sleep, your brain lessens leptin and raises ghrelin, which is a hunger stimulant. This clearly explains night time.

A lack of sleep also makes you too tired to exercise. Decreased physical activity can make you gain weight as enough calories are not being burned and muscle mass keeps building up.
Sleep deprivation also urges your body to produce higher levels of insulin after you eat. Insulin is responsible for controlling your blood sugar level. Higher insulin levels elevate fat storage and increase the risk for type 2 diabetes.

Common symptoms of sleep deprivation include:

  • Mood and behavioural changes, involving being short-tempered, having anxiety, and depression
  • Psychiatric indications due to sleep deprivation include confusion, delusions, and fear
  • Physical impacts, such as discomfort, pains and cramps, and gastrointestinal symptoms, such as upset stomach or diarrhoea
  • Disruption in the natural flow of the sleep cycle, which can affect hormones such as thyroid hormone and growth hormone, and can contribute to infertility
  • Changes in blood pressure, pulse, heart rate can affect your long term health

 

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