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How Sleep Deprivation Is Destroying Your Health Slowly

Reading time 2 and a half minutes.

A student tired and sleeps on her study table

We all love to brag about working with just three hours of sleep, but would we take pride in it if we knew the dangers of prolonged sleep deprivation?

Individuals who consistently get less sleep than they need to stay awake and be alert over a long period suffer from sleep deprivation. 37% of the U.S population aged between 20 and 39 years old report that they sleep for a short duration, according to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information.

Fifty to seventy million people in the U.S.A suffer from one or more sleep disorders according to Maternal and Child Health Burea. Sleep deprivation has more harmful effects than just lower productivity and tiredness.

IT HARMS YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

Studies have shown that sleep deprivation reduces the production of cytokines, these help your immune system to fight infections.

Cytokines help you sleep, during which time your immune system gets the energy it needs to fight infections.

Remember, when our mothers told us to sleep when we were sick? It is equally important when you’re well.

SLEEP DEPRIVATION IS LINKED TO OBESITY

The two might seem unrelated but are not. Lack of sleep increases the production of insulin, which promotes the storage of fat in your body. Putting at risk of getting type 2 diabetes.

Also, if you regularly do some exercise, sleep deprivation over a prolonged period will leave you tired and unable to continue exercising.

When we sleep, hormones called leptin and ghrelin, linked to the digestive the system is produced.

Leptin controls your feelings of fullness, while ghrelin influences hunger. Sleep deprivation causes your brain to increase the production of ghrelin which makes you hungry and reduces leptin. This chemical reaction is a possible explanation for nighttime snacking. In the long run, sleep deprivation can contribute to obesity.

RISK OF CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE

Other studies found links between insomnia and the risk of heart attacks. The reason being that sleep keeps your blood vessels and hearts healthy.

Many of the body’s essential functions are taken care of while you sleep. For example, your the body heals while you’re asleep, repairing blood vessels and supplying oxygen to your whole body.

HORMONE PRODUCTION

Hormones like testosterone are produced during the REM cycle and require three hours of uninterrupted sleep. Sleep deprivation also affects the production of other hormones in your body. Namely TSH, the thyroid-stimulating hormone which slows down your metabolism and causes obesity.

Growth hormones are released in children through the pituitary gland, but it is also affected by sleep and exercise. These growth hormones are vital for repairing muscle tissue and cells.

Alarming statistics show that 97% of teenagers do not get the required nine hours of sleep. These habits are carried into adulthood and have consequences in the long term.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PREVENT SLEEP DEPRIVATION?

SET FIXED STUDY TIMES

As students, you need to manage academics, extracurriculars and college applications. Time management and learning to understand your limits helps to be sure you’re not taking on more than you can manage. Nine hours of sleep is vital. For tips on managing your study time effectively, visit our the post here.

WORK-LIFE BALANCE

Balance work with your health and family time and you’re bound to make sure you get the sleep you need. Visit our post on how a work-life balance can save highly engaged employees from burn out to learn more.

For medically diagnosed sleep disorders, visiting a specialist would help you recover better. The best treatment for sleep deprivation is sleep. In most instances, you can prevent major problems just by taking steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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