woman-sleepingI’ve said this on many occasions but I’ll say it again. Sleep is incredibly important. It’s like the daily reset button for your body, since a lot of human biological processes happen only while you are asleep.

There is no doubt in my mind that a general reduction in the quality and quantity of sleep that people get is a primary reason for the increase in “diseases of civilization”. I’ve pointed out a few of the more significant issues in this article.

Your ability to concentrate and remember things will suffer. This is probably one of the first things to get effected when you haven’t had enough sleep. Your working memory is diminished so it will be difficult to remember little things like where you left your car keys or where you were driving to. With the reduced ability to concentrate that you’re probably experiencing, you actually shouldn’t be driving at all.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that one in every five serious motor vehicle injuries is related to driver fatigue, with 80,000 drivers falling asleep behind the wheel every day and 250,000 accidents every year related to sleep [1].

You’ll probably start to gain unwanted weight. Despite the fact that if you sleep for less hours you will actually expend more energy, you’ll also probably eat more food. You’re simply being active for more hours during the day. Unfortunately, along with this increased energy intake and expenditure is the chance that your endocrine system will become disrupted, and weaken your body’s ability to effectively manage your metabolic processes.

A reduction of sleep duration to 4 hours for two consecutive nights has been shown to decrease circulating leptin levels and to increase ghrelin levels, as well as self-reported hunger [2]. Both leptin and ghrelin are hormones that are becoming more prevalent in cutting edge obesity research.

You will have reduced insulin sensitivity. Possibly contributing to the likelihood of gaining weight, is the loss of insulin sensitivity caused by sleep deprivation, and the corresponding mismanagement of blood sugar that results from this. Some experiments have shown that getting only four hours of sleep a day can reduce insulin sensitivity in most tissues by up to 20-25% [3].

It’s not necessarily clear that insulin is a primary contributor to obesity, but insulin resistance is almost always present when reviewing symptoms of metabolic syndrome. In general, insulin resistance is not a good thing, unless it is instigated by normal and healthy physiological processes like dietary fat consumption [4].

You just won’t look as attractive. The outward physical symptoms of sleep deprivation which we present to the world will vary from person to person. Some folks get really deep bags under their eyes, or in my case my eyes themselves get very red and irritated looking. Apparently people can tell whether or not you’ve had enough sleep.

In this study [5], observers judged the faces of sleep-deprived participants as less healthy, less attractive and more tired. The researchers concluded that the facial signals of sleep deprived people affect facial appearance and judgments of attractiveness, health and tiredness.

It’s probably a sort of adaptiveness signaling mechanism. Poor sleep can be caused by an abundance of stress, and stress can signal that one isn’t well adapted or capable of thriving in their environment. Not being adapted to one’s environment isn’t very attractive to other members of your species wishing to reproduce.

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It doesn’t have to be this way though. Granted some people are limited in their employment options because of shift work, or young babies keep exhausted parents up at night. But a bit of conscientious planning throughout the day can help you get the best sleep possible. It’s worth giving it a shot, your health really depends on it.

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3 Responses to Health Problems Created From a Lack of Sleep

  1. Health Problems Created From a Lack of Sleep | Low Carb Daily says:

    [...] Problems Created From a Lack of Sleep September 5, 2011By: David Csonka Read the Full Post at: Naturally Engineered I’ve said this on many occasions but I’ll say it again. Sleep is incredibly important. [...]

  2. Grady Pruitt says:

    Getting sleep is really important! I know that I tend to be more grouchy when I don’t get enough sleep. Small things will irritate me more than when I do get enough sleep. And, more importantly, when I don’t get enough sleep, I notice that I don’t get anywhere near the amount of work done that I want to do because I don’t have the energy.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Txomin says:

    If only we could find a reliable way to avoid medications in order to rest adequately… I can attest to the immense difficulties those of us suffering chronic sleep disorders have to overcome.