Effects of Sleep Deprivation

June 11, 2016

sleeping on bench 

Not putting in enough quality shut-eye leads to a rough start to the day that most of us attempt to cure with a few shots of espresso. However we manage to function in the day on little rest, sleep deprivation produces long term health risks that must be avoided.

Even mild sleep deprivation can impair your cognitive and emotional function. Tired people predictably don't show positive emotion on their faces, and are usually perceived as being sad or upset. They accordingly don't detect positive emotions in others as well. Experiments have shown that not being well rested ironically makes people more sensitive to pain yet less empathetic. Short term effects include irritability, anxiety, low energy, and lack of concentration. The most relatable effect is depersonalization, which is when you feel separated from your thoughts, your body, and reality itself. People in a depersonalized state tend to be forgetful and slower to react to things. 

Men who get only five to six hours of sleep a night are less virile, as their testosterone levels lower to a point equivalent to someone ten years older. The cardiovascular system suffers because it is during deep sleep that blood circulation is best promoted, so blood pressure rises when sleep deprived. Long term-effects include the exacerbation of obesity, memory loss, diabetes, and heart failure. 

There are some strange episodes that can be induced by inadequate sleep. Microsleep is a disturbing phenomenon in which a person's eyes remains open without processing information for up to 30 seconds. Delirium is present when a person is completely disoriented and loopy from not getting enough sleep.

So when do these effects start setting in? Past the 16 hour mark of being awake, we begin to see deterioration in the mind and body that is equivalent to that of someone legally drunk. That's why it's important to maintain the ideal 8 hours of sleep a night that is generally recommended. For more on how to make sure that 8 hours counts, visit our blog How to Set Yourself Up for a Good Night's Sleep

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