10 Dangerous Side Effects of Not Getting Enough Sleep

8. Leads to Early Death It may sound dramatic, but numerous studies have linked sleep deprivation to an increased risk of early death. This doesn’t mean… Tayana - October 2, 2017

8. Leads to Early Death

It may sound dramatic, but numerous studies have linked sleep deprivation to an increased risk of early death. This doesn’t mean that an occasional late night is going to send you to an early grave, but continued lack of sleep or poor sleep over a period of years, could increase your risk of many serious, chronic health problems.

A decent night’s sleep is fundamental to our body’s ability to function. It is during our sleeping hours that our body repairs and renews cells and tissues. It also heals and repairs blood vessels, and creates new pathways in the brain essential for learning and memory.

Researchers analyzed data collected over 16 studies, comprising 1.3 million people in the US, UK and Asia over 25 years found that those who slept an average of less than 6 hours per night were 12% more likely to die early, than those who sleep between 6-8 hours per night. It also showed that lack of sleep was associated with ailments including heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. Evidence also showed that people who slept consistently more than 9 hours per night were also at an increased risk of early death, but this was attributed to other health-related causes.

However, not getting enough sleep could also be an indicator of other health problems, and therefore an increased risk of early death. Those in chronic pain or with mental health issues such as depression are less likely to be able to get a consistent good quality of sleep, which may increase their risk of other health problems. Similarly, if you work shifts, or are under financial pressure to work a high number of hours, this may increase your stress and therefore your ability to sleep.

9. Leads to Fatigue-Related Accidents

Lack of sleep severely impairs your brain’s ability to retain information, decreases reaction times, as well as impairs coordination and judgment.

This makes sleep deprivation not only dangerous for your long-term health, but makes it also a concern for your short-term safety as you go about your day.

One of the leading causes of serious car accidents is driving whilst fatigued. One in five of all serious vehicle injuries is related to mistakes made by a driver who is suffering from sleep deprivation.

One study even showed that moderate sleep deprivation induces impairments in cognitive function equivalent to being under the influence of alcohol. It is recommended that if you are driving whilst fatigued, you pull over a take a short 15-20 minute power nap to alleviate the drowsiness.

This effect of sleep deprivation is also a danger in working environments especially when operating machinery, or working in environments where there are hazards, and a high level of awareness is needed.

Many high-profile disasters are thought to have been caused, at least in part, by sleep deprivation. For example, the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl in 1986, and Three Mile Island in 1979, were both thought to have been caused in part by workers being sleep deprived, and therefore missing important information. It is also thought that medical errors in hospitals are often caused by medical professionals being sleep deprived. It is estimated that 50,000-100,000 deaths a year in the US are caused by preventable medical errors, many caused by doctors and nurses working shifts of up to 24 hours without getting an adequate amount of sleep.

10. Kills Your Sex Drive

It stands to reason that when your body is exhausted, you are unlikely to be motivated toward sex. As well as a loss of physical energy, a lack of sleep also increases stress and tension, both of which negatively affect sex drive.

A 2008 poll from the National Sleep Foundation found that 20 percent of respondents have lost interest in sex because they are too tired.

Because sleep deprivation impairs your emotional response, it may also cause you to become irritable easier and therefore affect your relationship, making it less likely that you will want to engage in sexual activity with your partner.

Over time, sleep deprivation is likely to lead to a general loss of interest in sex. Sleep deprivation once again goes hand in hand with mental health issues like depression and anxiety, of which loss of libido is one of the symptoms. These factors affect both men and women equally.

Poor sleep patterns have been found to affect the male production of testosterone, the hormone responsible for sex drive. Scientists from the University of Chicago found men who get less than five hours of sleep a night for a week or longer suffer have far less levels of testosterone than those who get a good night’s rest.

Studies have also shown that men that suffer from sleep apnea, a sleeping disorder which disrupts sleep, also tend to have lower testosterone levels and as a result, often have lower libidos.

Having low levels of testosterone can also lead to other health problems such as an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.