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10 Shocking Ways Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Body

Missing out on the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night can do more than leave you in a fog; it can have serious short and long-term effects on your body.

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We've all been there before: another sleepless night tossing and turning in bed, unable to get any relief. What's worse than a sleepless night? How groggy, tired, and cranky you feel the next day.

Missing out on the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night can do more than leave you in a fog; it can have serious short and long-term effects on your body. From serious health complications and increased mortality to decreased memory and attention, we explore how the lack of sleep affects your body and ways to help you sleep better.

10 Shocking Ways Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Body

1. Lack of Sleep Causes Weight Gain

Do you find yourself snacking all day after a night with no sleep? Researchers have found multiple links between lack of sleep and increased appetite, and even obesity. A study in 2004 found that people who sleep less than six hours a night were 30% more likely to become obese than those that slept seven to nine hours.

A study on over 1,000 participants from the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study found that people with short nightly sleep had lower leptin levels and increased ghrelin. Leptin and ghrelin are both peptides that regulate appetite; leptin signals satisfaction and fullness to the brain while ghrelin stimulates hunger.

Researchers from the University of Chicago found that sleep deprivation can alter endocannabinoid levels, similar to the way chemicals in marijuana make the body crave certain tasty foods. So it is no surprise that you get the munchies after a night without some shut-eye.

According to Dr. Hanlon, the study leader, you're better able to resist junk food when you've had adequate sleep. "But if you're sleep-deprived, your hedonic drive for certain foods gets stronger, and your ability to resist them may be impaired. So you are more likely to eat them. Do that again and again, and you pack on the pounds."

Negative Effects of Lack of Sleep

2. Impacts Memory

Are you feeling forgetful at work? Unable to recall the facts you learned in school the day or month before? Sleep deprivation could be the culprit. Sleep plays a vital role in memory consolidation, the process by which recent experiences in your short-term memory are transformed into long-term memories.

People have been studying the role of sleep in memory since the 1920s, and in 2009 American and French researchers pinpointed the mechanism for memory consolidation during sleep. The brain events, called "short wave ripples," are responsible for "transferring the learned information from the hippocampus to the neocortex, where long-term memories are stored."

These events occur mainly during the two deepest stages of REM sleep, indicating the importance of both quantity and quality of sleep in memory retention.

3. Increases Accidents

Some of the world's biggest disasters may have been caused by sleep deprivation: from the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, the devastating 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, to the infamous Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, and more.

Even if you don't run a nuclear power plant, sleep deprivation can cause a meltdown in your life. According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatigue contributes to 100,000 auto crashes and 1,550 crash-related deaths a year in the U.S. Drowsiness can impact reaction time as much as driving drunk.

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4. Sleep Loss Slows You Down

Sleep plays an essential role in cognitive processes, like thinking and learning. Researchers from Finland note that total sleep deprivation "impairs attention and working memory, but it also affects other functions, such as long-term memory and decision-making."

That even just partial sleep deprivation can "influence attention, especially vigilance." When your alertness, attention, concentration, problem-solving, and reasoning are impaired by lack of sleep, it can make it challenging to learn.

5. Dampens Your Sex Drive

A recent study of 4,000 men and women found that sleep deprivation can negatively impact your sex life. Researchers determined that lack of sleep was linked to erectile dysfunction in men and arousal problems and orgasm difficulty in women.

A 2002 study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism also found abnormally low nighttime testosterone levels in nearly 50% of men suffering from sleep apnea. So if you and your partner want to improve your time in bed, you may want to increase your time sleeping.

6. Ages Your Skin

Getting your beauty sleep might be scientifically proven! A 2013 study was the first of its kind to link lack of sleep with aging skin. According to Dr. Baron, director of the Skin Study Center at UH Case Medical Center, "Sleep-deprived women show signs of premature skin aging and a decrease in their skin's ability to recover after sun exposure."

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7. Increased Risk of Death

While this may be shocking news, researchers have studied the link between lack of sleep and mortality for nearly 60 years. A general population survey in the 1960s of over one million adults reported that people who slept less than seven hours a night had higher mortality than those sleeping seven to eight hours.

A more recent 2007 study of 10,000 British workers found that individuals who decreased their sleep from seven hours a night to five or less almost doubled their risk of death from all causes, particularly cardiovascular disease.

8. Can Make You Depressed

Lack of sleep and sleep disorders such as insomnia can contribute to symptoms of depression. A 2007 study of 10,000 adults found that individuals who have insomnia were five times more likely to develop depression.

Studies found that 15-20% of people with insomnia will develop major depression. If you are suffering from symptoms of depression or other mood disorders, taking steps to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep can help alleviate symptoms.

9. Lead to Serious Health Problems

According to the CDC, lack of sleep and sleep disorders are linked to a variety of chronic conditions, including:

  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Irregular heartbeats (Arrhythmias)
  • Type II diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Depression

10. Increases Anxiety

If stress keeps you tossing and turning at night, unable to fall asleep, you're not alone. Population studies report that 24-36% of people with insomnia suffer from an anxiety disorder as well. Sleep deprivation and anxiety are so interlinked that it is often attributed as one of the leading symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

According to the Sleep Foundation, "distress about falling asleep can itself complicate matters, creating sleep anxiety that reinforces a person's sense of dread and preoccupation. These negative thoughts about going to bed, a type of anticipatory anxiety, can create challenges to healthy sleep schedules and routines."

Here's How Your Mattress Can Give You a Good Night's Sleep

Nectar Sleep Mattress

Your mattress is the foundation of every good night's sleep, so the quality of it directly impacts the quality of your sleep. Stop playing Goldilocks with mattresses that are too hard or too soft and settle into premium comfort with a Nectar memory foam mattress.

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No matter your sleep position, the four adaptive memory foam layers work together to cradle your body in comfort and support, helping relieve common pressure points for better spinal alignment and soothe fatigued muscles. No more waking up aching and sore from a night of unsupported sleep.

In fact, 9 out of 10 back pain sufferers reported their Nectar mattress helped alleviate pain some or a lot in a July 2020 survey. The quilted cooling Tencel™ mattress cover will keep you comfortable throughout the night, no more waking up drenched in a pool of sleep sweat.

Does your partner's tossing and turning keep you up? The unique construction of the memory foam layers also helps to minimize motion transfer, so you or your partner are free to move around without disrupting each other's beauty sleep.

These mattresses are ready to fit into your life and room, available from twin to California king sizes and adaptable to any bed frame style. The best part of the Nectar Mattress? It comes with a 100% Risk-Free 365-Night Home Trial.

Yeah, you read that right. You can sleep on a Nectar mattress for an entire year, and if you're not satisfied with your quality of sleep, you can return it for a full refund.

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Sleep is scientifically proven to impact your health, from severe conditions like heart disease to your everyday cognitive functions like memory and attention.

Improve your sleep by purchasing a Nectar memory foam mattress today!

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