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The Top 10 Effects of Sleep Loss

Obstructive sleep apnoea and insomnia are sleep disorders that can make a sufferer not only lethargic but grumpy and foggy as well.
A person suffering from long term sleep loss has diminished health, sex life, memory, looks and the ability to stay fit and trim. The effects and consequences of sleep loss are something to worry about.

Loss of sleep eventually leads to serious health complications. A person suffering from chronic sleep disorders and sleep loss has an increased risk of developing heart diseases including heart failure and heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, metabolic syndrome and depression.

Lack of sleep may lead to accidents. Statistics show that more than 20% of vehicular accidents in Australia factor in fatigue. Fatigue-related accidents are common in drivers with sleep disorder, young and inexperienced drivers and shift workers. It is a fact that poor quality of sleep and loss of sleep can lead to accidents and injuries in the workplace. The 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island and the 1986 nuclear meltdown in Chernobyl and the Exxon Valdez oil spill were rooted to lack of sleep or sleep deprivation of those involved.

Sleep deprivation may increase death risk. A 20-year study involving 10,000 respondents showed that those who sleep from 7 to 5 hours each night increase their risk of death from various causes.

People deprived of sleep have impaired cognition. For one to maximise one’s learning and thinking capacities, restful night sleep is required. People who lack sleep have impaired concentration, attention, alertness, problem-solving skills, attention and reasoning power. While a person sleeps, short term memories are merged and consolidate into long term memories. When one lacks sleep, this process or cycle is affected.

Lack of sleep affects one’s sexual drive. Studies indicate that people who are sleep deprives have lower libidos and less interest in sex. Rightly so as lack of sleep decreases energy, increases tension and makes one nod off to sleep. Men with undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnoea are more likely to suffer respiratory problem that could cause sleep loss. A 2002 article published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism concluded that men with untreated sleep apnoea have been found to have low level of testosterone.

Sleep deprivation could lead to depression. Chronic sleep loss has been linked to symptoms of depression. A 2005 study indicated that people suffering from depression or anxiety disorder sleep less than 6 hours at night. Insomnia is also linked to depression as a study concluded that insomniacs are five times more likely to develop depression.

Sleep deprivation makes people more forgetful. The brain cycle termed sharp wave ripples efficiently merges a person’s memory during sleep. Information accumulated during the day is conveyed from the hippocampus to the brain’s neocortex, where long-term memories are sorted and stored. Sleep loss stops the wave ripples from happening.

Sleep loss may lead to bad and lackluster skin. A sleep deprived person has noticeably puffy skin and puffy eyes. If the sleep loss condition is chronic, the skin will rapidly age. Dark circles around the eyes and facial lines are sure to develop. Chronic lack of sleep is a contributing factor to early aging of the skin as cortisol, a stress hormone, is released in huge quantity. Cortisol is known to break down collagen.

Sleep deprivation hinders the release of the very important human growth hormone (HGH). Younger children need this hormone to promote their growth whereas older people need this hormone to help strengthen bones, increase muscle mass, thicken skin and repair body tissues.

Sleep deprivation is “fattening”. This is evident in shift workers. A 2004 study indicated that people who sleep less than 6 hours a day are 30% more likely to be obese.
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