We all know how important it is to get a good night’s sleep. However, two out of five Americans get less than the recommended 7 to 9 hours a night. You may think that 4 or 5 hours a night isn’t too bad, but this qualifies as long term sleep deprivation. Over time, this can impact your physical, mental, and psychological health in a variety of negative ways. Sleep deprivation has many well known side effects, such as increased chance of heart disease and obesity. You may find some of the other side effects of long term sleep deprivation surprising.
Studies show that sleep deprivation can have a serious impact on your social life. People who don’t get enough sleep tend to feel very isolated and lonely, and are more likely to keep people at a distance as a result. This feeling of isolation becomes a self fulfilling prophecy as individuals who are well rested will, without realizing it judge the sleep deprived individual as someone less attractive to socialize with.
Lower Sex Drive
When you don’t get the recommended 7 – 9 hours of sleep, your body will produce less testosterone. This means that you are likely to have a lower sex drive. This doesn’t just affect men either. The effects on women are similar, though not as dramatic or easy to measure.
Many times, sleep deprivation can be affecting you without you realizing it. One example is memory. You may find that you’re growing forgetful and think it’s normal, or the result of aging, when you really just need more sleep. Consolidation is when your brain stores memories on a long term basis, and this only occurs when our brains are in the deepest phase of sleep.
Lack of sleep also affects your judgement and decision making. In this way, it functions much like alcohol. Driving without getting enough sleep can be as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. But the negative effects don’t stop there, on the long term it can hinder your success and lead to weight gain.
As sleep loss affects your judgement, you are more likely to make poor food choices. There are actual studies showing that you will tend to crave unhealthy foods when you don’t get enough sleep. In addition, sleep is important when it comes to regulating the chemicals that control appetite.
The science is abundantly clear that getting adequate sleep on a nightly basis is essential for your long term health. If you want to ensure a higher quality of life, remember that sleeping well is just as important as a healthy diet or getting enough exercise.