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11 Dangerous Effects Sleep Deprivation Has on Your Body (Infographic)

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Have you ever gone to bed late and felt groggy, slow and unfocused the next day? Sleep is a vital part of our physical and mental health - just as much as food, water and oxygen. Discover why getting the adequate amount of sleep is crucial to your everyday health!

Greene County Medical Center, 11 Dangerous Effects Sleep Deprivation Has on Your Body

1. Safety

Sleep deprivation can critically impair judgment and lead to an increased amount of errors. When sleep deprived, critical decisions are made at a slower pace and fatigue makes lapses of attention more likely to occur. Each year, approximately 100,000 police-reported accidents are due to drowsy driving.

2. Memory Problems

When an individual is tired due to lack of sleep, it is normal to feel forgetful and unfocused. Sleep is what helps refine our memory. When inadequate amounts of sleep are received on a routine basis, permanent cognitive issues such as memory loss are common.

3. Daytime Performance

Lack of sleep can lead to many issues related to work performance and the work environment. According to the National Sleep Foundation, approximately 63 percent of adults state that their sleep needs are not met throughout the week. This lack of sleep can decrease concentration and increase drowsiness throughout the work day.

4. Weakened Immune System

When sleeping, the body uses protective infection-fighting antibodies to fight off foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses. When the body receives inadequate sleep, it’s ability to fend off illnesses is diminished. This heightens the risk of respiratory issues such as common colds and influenza.

5. Weight Gain

Research continues to show that when individuals get too little sleep, they are at a heightened risk of weight gain and obesity. When individuals do not receive enough sleep, they have lower levels of leptin--a hormone which alerts the brain that they have consumed enough food and are full. Additionally, sleep deprivation releases higher levels of insulin after eating, which promotes fat storage.

6. Heart Disease

Sleep is crucial for a healthy heart. Studies showcase that too little sleep during the younger years takes a toll and can develop into cardiovascular problems such as heart disease. Regardless of age, weight or exercise habits, people who do not receive six to eight hours of sleep each night are compromising their heart health.

7. High Blood Pressure

People who regularly sleep five hours or less each night increase their risk of developing or worsening their high blood pressure. Sleep helps blood regulate stress hormones and keeps the nervous system healthy. A lack of sleep over an extended period of time can decrease the body’s ability to regulate stress hormones, resulting in high blood pressure.

8. Increased Risk of Stroke

As mentioned, prolonged sleep deprivation can have a serious effect on cardiovascular health. Over time, extreme fatigue increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

9. Moodiness

Sleep deprivation leaves the body and brain exhausted, leading to mood swings and a shorter temper. When the body does not receive the necessary amount of sleep, cognitive function is impaired.

10. Depression

Depression may cause sleep deprivation, and sleep deprivation may cause or contribute to depressive disorders. Sleep deprivation can trigger manic episodes and increase impulsive behavior, paranoia, and suicidal thoughts.

11. Reduced Quality of Life

During sleep, the body is busy working to make sure that your physical and mental health are ready for another day. When deprived of sleep, the brain cannot function and recover properly, which diminishes emotional, cognitive and physical abilities. A total lack of sleep over time not only increases the risk of injury, but lowers the body's defenses and overall quality of life.

The staff at Greene County Medical Center understand that sleep deprivation is a very serious condition that should not be taken lightly. If you or a loved one is struggling with insomnia, sleep apnea or other sleep-related problems, sleep studies are available through Greene County Medical Center. Our staff will help determine and treat your sleep-related issues, so you can get the rest you need and deserve.