In our previous blog we discussed how sleep helps our body . Lack of sleep can affect both your short term and long term health. We have all been through the phase where we have decided to do a “all nighter” to finish that project at work or to prepare for a test at college. The next day most of us experience irritation, lack of concentration and drowsiness impairing your performance through the day, defeating the purpose of putting in the extra hours the night before.
Sleep is such an important part of our lives that its effects show up quickly when we don’t get enough of it. Getting too little sleep for just one night can:
Short-term health impact
- Increase stress. Researchers examined two groups of healthy young adults who had to perform an impromptu speech and complete a test that measured reaction times to colors and words. The catch? One group was allowed to sleep the night before, while the other had to stay awake all night long. The sleep-deprived group experienced more severe stress in the face of these fairly simple tasks and exhibited increased blood pressure.
- Disturb mood. Anyone who has felt irritable after a poor night’s sleep understands the profound connection between sleep and mood. Research shows that sleep-deprived people have a much stronger tendency to classify neutral images—such as pictures of ordinary household objects—as “negative,” whereas people who slept the night before labeled them “neutral.” So even minor annoyances can suddenly seem more menacing or unmanageable after skipping or shortening a night of sleep.
- Impair ability to concentrate. A review of 70 studies on the effects of sleep deprivation found that the most largely affected area was simple attention. For example, sleep-deprived subjects who were asked to press a button each time they saw a light flash had trouble focusing and missed more of the light flashes than their well-rested counterparts. Simple attention is a vital skill that helps us stay safe—imagine how your reaction time to stoplights or traffic hazards would be impaired if you didn’t get enough sleep.
Long-term health impact
Some people might say that it’s a fair trade-off to skimp on sleep now and then, saying that a day or two of tiredness and crankiness is worth the extra time they earned. But while returning to a regular sleeping pattern can restore the negative short-term effects of one night of poor sleep, the long-term consequences of regular sleep deprivation that arise under the surface are much more dangerous. Long-term effects of poor sleep include:
- Heightened risk factor for diabetes. Too much sleep can be as bad for you as too little: people who regularly get less than 6 or more than 9 hours of sleep each night are both faced with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
- High blood pressure. There is also strong link between short sleep duration and hypertension.
- Decreased immune function. According to the Mayo Clinic, people who don’t sleep enough each night get less protection from flu vaccines and are more likely to catch the common cold.
- Major depression. Insomniacs and others who don’t get adequate sleep each night are ten times as likely to develop major depression as those who sleep through the night. Because depression also has a negative effect on sleep patterns, this can create a cycle that is hard to break.
- Obesity. A Harvard study into the relation between lack of sleep and obesity were surprising—brain scans of sleepy adults showed that they were less likely to distinguish between high-calorie and low-calorie foods; the part of the brain that inhibits and controls emotions and behavior was not active. This can lead to overeating and making poor food choices in general, which contributes to obesity. Other studies have found that lack of sleep may affect hormones that tell you when you are full—this causes you to overeat when you’re sleepy.
Stay healthy with eKincare – your personal health manager!