Sunday, 28 October 2012

10 Things You Didn't Know About Sleep Deprevation

At some point or another we have all suffered with lack of sleep. It isn't too bad to cope with for a couple of days but what happens if sleep loss continues for a longer period of time? If you are faced with a child that doesn't sleep for long or work hours that start to clash with your home life? Unavoidable situations that you can't escape.

For me it has been having a difficult pregnancy, followed by a difficult baby, falling pregnant after 4 months then coping with a baby and a toddler. Over the last 3 years I have had very little sleep and can't remember the last time I slept for longer than 4 hours without waking up. My husband is also a fantastic snorer which doesn't help at all! I currently experience headaches, eye strain, aching muscles, lack of patience, really bad memory, no libido and an ability to fall asleep in seconds, anywhere. All these things have made me wonder what the long term effects of sleep deprivation are. Here is what I have found.

1. Lack of Sleep Causes Accidents
Some of the biggest disasters in history have been attributed to sleep deprivation. The nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in 1979, the massive Exxon Valdez oil spill,  the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl and others.
Drowsiness can slow reactions to the same speed as a drunk driver. The under 25's are the greatest risk.

Studies show that sleep loss and poor-quality sleep also lead to accidents and injuries on the job. In one study, workers who complained about excessive daytime sleepiness had significantly more work accidents, particularly repeated work accidents. They also had more sick days per accident.

2. Sleeps Loss Dumbs You Down

Sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning. Lack of sleep hurts these cognitive processes in many ways. First, it impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving. This makes it more difficult to learn efficiently.
During the night, various sleep cycles play a role in “consolidating” memories in the mind. If you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t be able to remember what you learned and experienced during the day.

My Dad has always insisted on quality sleep, not just quantity. He says if you have a warm comfortable sleep you will be more able to cope with whatever the day throws at you. He's right.

3. Sleep Deprivation Can Result in Serious Health Risks

Heart disease
Heart attack
Heart failure
Irregular heartbeat
High blood pressure
According to some estimates, 90% of people with insomnia -- a sleep disorder characterized by trouble falling and staying asleep -- also have another health condition.

4. Lack of Sleep Kills Sex Drive

Sleep specialists say that sleep-deprived men and women report lower libidos and less interest in sex. Depleted energy, sleepiness, and increased tension may be largely to blame.

For men with sleep apnea, a respiratory problem that interrupts sleep, there may be another factor in the sexual slump. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in 2002 suggests that many men with sleep apnea also have low testosterone levels. In the study, nearly half of the men who suffered from severe sleep apnea also secreted abnormally low levels of testosterone during the night.

5. Sleepiness Is Depressing

Over time, lack of sleep and sleep disorders can contribute to the symptoms of depression. In a 2005 Sleep in America poll, people who were diagnosed with depression or anxiety were more likely to sleep less than six hours at night.

The most common sleep disorder, insomnia, has the strongest link to depression. In a 2007 study of 10,000 people, those with insomnia were five times as likely to develop depression as those without. In fact, insomnia is often one of the first symptoms of depression.

Insomnia and depression feed on each other. Sleep loss often aggravates the symptoms of depression, and depression can make it more difficult to fall asleep. On the positive side, treating sleep problems can help depression and its symptoms, and vice versa.

This also explains a lot. The more sleep I get, the better I feel and I know a lot of other people with depression feel the same. It also has an effect on my anxiety too. The first thing I want to do after recovering from an attack is to sleep.

6. Lack of Sleep Ages Your Skin

Most people have experienced sallow skin and puffy eyes after a few nights of missed sleep. But it turns out that chronic sleep loss can lead to lackluster skin, fine lines, and dark circles under the eyes.

When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol. In excess amounts, cortisol can break down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic.

Sleep loss also causes the body to release too little human growth hormone. When we’re young, human growth hormone promotes growth. As we age, it helps increase muscle mass, thicken skin, and strengthen bones.

“It’s during deep sleep -- what we call slow-wave sleep -- that growth hormone is released,” says sleep expert Phil Gehrman, PhD. “It seems to be part of normal tissue repair -- patching the wear and tear of the day.”

7. Sleepiness Makes You Forgetful

Trying to keep your memory sharp? Try getting plenty of sleep.

In 2009, American and French researchers determined that brain events called “sharp wave ripples” are responsible for consolidating memory. The ripples also transfer learned information from the hippocampus to the neocortex of the brain, where long-term memories are stored. Sharp wave ripples occur mostly during the deepest levels of sleep.

This goes a long way to explain "Baby Brain". My memory is like an Etch-a-sketch, one sleep and it's all gone! Combine this with number 2 and you have a perfect description of me!

8. Losing Sleep Can Make You Gain Weight

When it comes to body weight, it may be that if you snooze, you lose. Lack of sleep seems to be related to an increase in hunger and appetite, and possibly to obesity. According to a 2004 study, people who sleep less than six hours a day were almost 30 percent more likely to become obese than those who slept seven to nine hours.
Here comes the science bit!
Recent research has focused on the link between sleep and the peptides that regulate appetite. “Ghrelin stimulates hunger and leptin signals satiety to the brain and suppresses appetite,” says Siebern. “Shortened sleep time is associated with decreases in leptin and elevations in ghrelin.”

Not only does sleep loss appear to stimulate appetite. It also stimulates cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods (midnight munchies - oh yes!). Ongoing studies are considering whether adequate sleep should be a standard part of weight loss programs.

9. Lack of Sleep May Increase Risk of Death

This is one I'm not sure if I agree on. I understand that your body is under more stress if you are not properly rested but I'm not sure there is enough evidence to prove you'll increase your risk of death.

In the “Whitehall II Study,” British researchers looked at how sleep patterns affected the mortality of more than 10,000 British civil servants over two decades. The results, published in 2007, showed that those who had cut their sleep from seven to five hours or fewer a night nearly doubled their risk of death from all causes. In particular, lack of sleep doubled the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

10. Sleep Loss Impairs Judgment, Especially About Sleep

Lack of sleep can affect our interpretation of events. This hurts our ability to make sound judgments because we may not assess situations accurately and act on them wisely.

Sleep-deprived people seem to be especially prone to poor judgment when it comes to assessing what lack of sleep is doing to them. In our increasingly fast-paced world, functioning on less sleep has become a kind of badge of honor. But sleep specialists say if you think you’re doing fine on less sleep, you’re probably wrong. And if you work in a profession where it’s important to be able to judge your level of functioning, this can be a big problem.

“Studies show that over time, people who are getting six hours of sleep, instead of seven or eight, begin to feel that they’ve adapted to that sleep deprivation -- they’ve gotten used to it,” Gehrman says. “But if you look at how they actually do on tests of mental alertness and performance, they continue to go downhill. So there’s a point in sleep deprivation when we lose touch with how impaired we are.”

I can relate to this. I am functioning way under par these days but I've stopped expecting so much of myself. This has taken the pressure off immensely but I still get occasionally frustrated at not achieving as much.

Having read through this I am even more determined to get more quality sleep so I can get back to my happier, slightly healthier self. On that note, I'm off to bed! Sweet dreams x

The information in this post was found on WebMD pages.


  1. Ahh excellent- a reason for my lardiness and stupidity!

    1. Could this be the post all Mums are waiting for?!

  2. Oh sleep it's the most wonderful thing isn't it?

    Would love for you to link it up at my new Empty Your Archive link party which is a chance to dust off great posts from your archive - there is a focus this week on sleep and bedtime - would really love to see you there, Alice @ Mums Make Lists x


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