We’ve all done it at some point; a late night followed by an early rise, and copious amounts of caffeine to get through the day. While the odd occasion is unlikely to do us any harm, repeatedly losing sleep can cause numerous problems to the body over time. So, just what effect does sleep deprivation have on the body? Below, are five symptoms you can expect to experience if you regularly replace your sleep time with coffee time.
1. Weight Gain
Surprisingly, a lack of sleep can often result in substantial weight gain. While it may be intuitive to think that being awake longer and burning more calories, would reduce weight, it seems the opposite is true. The reason is, that to continue functioning, we tend to snack on high-calorie, sugary foods to stay focused. The problem comes when we overcompensate and eat far more calories than we need. In fact, studies suggest that those who sleep less than 6 hours a day are around 30% more likely to suffer from obesity.
2. Reduced Sex Drive
A lack of sleep is also commonly linked to a significant reduction in sex drive. So, if you are not getting enough shut-eye and you are struggling to get in the mood between the sheets, this may be the cause. The explanation is simple; a lack of energy, sleepiness, and increased irritability is enough to turn us off, rather than on, at night time.
3. More Mistakes
One of the more commonly known symptoms of sleep deprivation is a reduction in our judgment and reaction times. In fact, studies suggest that driving while drowsy can impair our ability as much as being drunk. It is not just our driving that is affected, either. Being sleepy influences all of our decisions, which can have a huge effect on both our personal and working lives.
4. Reduced Memory
Studies show that a lack of sleep can have a substantial impact on our ability to memorize and learn. This aspect is particularly relevant to students who sit up late at night cramming, but affects us all in some way. When we sleep, the brain uses this time to assimilate the information it has learned during the day. Depriving the brain of this opportunity vastly reduces our ability to retain knowledge, and can also make us more forgetful over time.
5. Increased Depression-Like Symptoms
While it is not known if the two are intrinsically linked, sleep deprivation and depression often occur together. It may be that sleep exasperates the problems of those with depression, or it could be that sleep reduction induces similar symptoms. Either way, depression and anxiety are more common in those who sleep six hours or less a day. This being the case, if you are at high risk for this sort of illness, getting enough z’s is doubly important.
Unfortunately, the number of people who get the recommended eight hours of sleep a day is declining, and it is estimated around 30-40% do not sleep enough. Worse, is that those who lack sleep become so used to functioning in a deprived state, that they do not realize they are affected. This is detrimental to both their own health and potentially the well-being of others. So, if you fall into this category, it could well be worth looking at your daily routine and working in an extra couple of hours of shut-eye. You might not realize the benefits until you try it.