Clearly, overall sleep duration is shorter than ever before. Every now and then you hear people say: the day is too short, 7 hours of sleep is a luxury, or you won't sleep until you're dead. However, not everyone realizes that prolonged sleep deprivation can have very serious consequences - from psychological to a whole host of other health problems. In this article you will find the 10 most serious consequences of long-term sleep deprivation.
1. Cancer and Genetic Disorders
A lack of rest during the night disrupts your normal genetic activity. A week with less than 6 hours of sleep already results in a disturbed functioning of 700 of our genes - including the genes responsible for our immune system and regulating stress. Research shows that people are particularly vulnerable to colon and breast cancer.
2. Gastrointestinal problems
Fortunately, it takes a while before sleep deprivation leads to cancer. Usually it starts with inflammatory bowel disease. Often from the small or large intestine. For example, Crohn's disease is becoming more common in Western countries. In the Netherlands there are currently more than 80,000 people who suffer from chronic intestinal inflammation.
Sleep disorders have a major impact on our metabolism. Without enough sleep, we tend to eat more and unhealthy. High-calorie products such as snacks and sweets are very tempting to consume and meet your energy needs. The risk of diabetes greatly increases when your body has to deal with such chaos in your metabolism. The first thing you usually face is insulin resistance (pre-diabetes and later type 2 diabetes.
4. Cardiovascular disease
According to a study conducted by Professor B. Faraut and his team, people who sleep 4 hours or less per day have a significantly increased heart rate compared to people who sleep 7 to 8 hours. In addition, coronary heart disease and pain are recorded up to twice as often as in people without sleep disorders. In the long term, chronic insomnia carries an increased risk of death for this reason.
5. Decreased immunity and recurrent infections
Our natural defense mechanisms already have enough to do to keep us healthy and protect us from disease. Chronic sleep disorders had to be added to that. One sleepless night is enough to get sick! It has been proven that people who sleep for a short time catch a cold up to three times more often than people with an 8-hour rest cycle. Effective sleep acts as the best prevention against infections and diseases related to immunity.
6. Uncontrolled weight gain
A lack of sleep affects our metabolism and leads to diabetes. Hormonal balance disorders cause obesity because they increase our appetite. Insufficient sleep disrupts the secretion of ghrelin and leptin, increases appetite and disrupts the feeling of satiety. As a result, we eat more and are less active. The problem starts with 6 hours of sleep a day.
7. Low libido
Professors at the University of Chicago have found that testosterone levels drop significantly when you sleep less than 5 hours a day. A week without enough sleep can cause levels to drop by as much as 15%. The men surveyed complained of discomfort and decreased mood. No wonder they had little or no sex drive.
8. Irritation and distraction
After a sleepless night we already become irritable, unkind and boring. After three days, we experience increasingly frequent mood swings - from irritability and gloom to excitement and sudden mood swings. This makes us less empathetic. There is no need to help anyone and understanding someone also becomes more difficult. In addition, we have serious problems with concentration and focus. After a few days of sleep deprivation, we also make riskier decisions.
The line between sleeping and being awake is very blurred. You see things that are not there. Your environment changes. Characters appear and disappear. Auditory hallucinations can also occur. You hear sounds that are not actually there. We think, for example, that we hear the sound of our mobile phone or that there is a knock on the door. This is a very dangerous condition that occurs with sleep deprivation.
10. Memory problems
264 hours and 12 minutes (11 days) - this is the record number of sleepless nights. Randy, who participated in the experiment, had to do a simple calculation after the test. He had to subtract the number 7 from 100. At 65 he quit... and forgot what to do. Memory problems occur earlier than 11 sleepless nights. Two bad nights are enough for you to experience problems with your memory.
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Source: Sleep magazine, National Sleep Foundation