We've all spent nights tossing and turning at some point. After a bad night, you're likely to feel tired, grumpy, and out of sorts. But missing out on the recommended amount of sleep does more than make you feel groggy for the day.
The long-term effects of sleepless nights can be severe.
Sleeplessness drains your mental abilities and puts your physical health at real risk. Poor sleep can lead to many different health problems including, weight gain, mental health issues and a weakened immune system.
How much sleep do we need?
Ideally, it would be best if you were getting around 8 hours of good-quality sleep a night. But this varies between each individual. Some people need more sleep while others need less.
Generally, if you find yourself longing for a chance to have a nap throughout the day, you're probably not getting enough sleep.
What are the effects of a sleepless night?
Everyone recognises the common signs of a bad night's sleep - fatigue, short temper and lack of focus.
The occasional sleepless night can leave you feeling tired and irritable, but it won't harm your health in the long term.
After several sleepless nights, the mental effects start becoming more serious. You'll experience a foggy feeling in your head, which may cause feelings of confusion and make it difficult to concentrate and make decisions. Your mood may also be affected, and you might start to feel down. You might even find yourself falling asleep during the day. All of this adds up to increase your risk of injury and accidents.
Here are some of the different physical and psychological effects of a sleepless night.
Disrupting your central nervous system
Your central nervous system is essential to maintaining several body functions. It's the system that delivers messages from your brain to other parts of the body and vice versa. For your central nervous system to function correctly, you need to be getting plenty of sleep. One of the significant effects of several sleepless nights is the disruption to how your body sends information.
Sleep deprivation leaves your mind exhausted, so it can't perform its duties as well, therefore impacting the role of your central nervous system.
You may also find yourself more prone to accidents when tired, as the signals your body sends become delayed, decreasing your coordination.
Impacting your immune system
While you sleep, your immune system produces substances to protect your body and fight infection. These substances include antibodies and cytokines. Your immune system uses these substances to combat foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses.
Sleep deprivation prevents your immune system from producing these germ-busting substances. If you don't get enough sleep, your body may not be able to fend off infection and may take longer to recover from illness.
If you wake up throughout the night and start to suffer from sleep deprivation, your body will be more vulnerable to respiratory illnesses such as flu and the common cold. Sleepless nights can also make the symptoms of conditions such as chronic lung disease worse.
Slowing down your digestive system
Just like eating too much and not exercising, sleep deprivation can lead to you gaining excessive weight or becoming obese. This is because sleep affects the levels of the hormones leptin and ghrelin, which control feelings of hunger and fullness.
Leptin is the hormone produced to tell your brain that you've had enough to eat. Without sufficient sleep, your brain will reduce the amount of leptin produced and increase the production of ghrelin, which is an appetite stimulant.
Not getting enough sleep can also leave you too tired to exercise, which, if prolonged over a more extended period, could lead to significant weight gain.
Damage to your cardiovascular system
Sleep affects many of the processes that keep your heart and blood vessels healthy. This includes maintaining healthy blood sugar, blood pressure, and inflammation levels. It also plays a vital role in your body's ability to heal and repair any damage to your blood vessels and heart.
People who don't sleep enough are, therefore, at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease or suffering a heart attack and stroke.
Detrimental impact on mental health
Given that even just one sleepless night can leave you feeling irritable, it's not surprising that chronic sleep deprivation can lead to more severe and long-term mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
If your sleep deprivation continues for an extended period, you could start having hallucinations — seeing or hearing things that aren't there. A lack of sleep can also be a primary trigger for people with bipolar disorder.
While there are many effects of sleepless nights on both your body's and minds, you can reduce your risk of poor sleep with the Sonno mattress. Visit our website to find out more.