The Health Risks of Sleep Deprivation

Are You Sleep Deprived?

We’ve all had those nights where we just didn’t get enough sleep. Maybe it was a late night finishing up a report at the office, or an early morning feeding appointment with the new baby at home. Whatever the reason, sleep deprivation is a serious problem across the country. If you’re getting less than six hours of sleep per night you may be setting the stage for serious health problems - both short term and long term.

Physical Symptoms of Not Getting Quality Sleep

Besides just feeling drowsy and run down the next day, lack of sleep will actually affect your judgment and decision-making (not a favorable situation to be in if you’re trying to impress clients at an early morning breakfast meeting). The body naturally wants to rest after the sun goes down, and although some people are “early to bed and early to rise” and others may lean more towards being night owls we all still require several hours of quality sleep to perform our best.

Unfortunately, trying to function when chronically sleep deprived seems to be becoming more and more an accepted part of modern life - especially in the business world.

Sleep Deprivation Effects and Sleep Apnea

Of course, a single night of five hours sleep is not the end of the world, and there’s a pretty decent chance you’d be able to power through the day with some caffeinated support and hopefully turn in a bit early to make up those lost hours. The real problems appear when one night stretches into five, six, and seven nights in a row. Under those conditions you’re actually more likely to crave higher-calorie foods and eat larger portions, increase your chance of catching a cold, and actually lose focus and start forgetting things. And when you drive it also endangers everyone else on the road along with you. All in all, it’s not a good combination for a safe and healthy lifestyle.

Health Problems for the Sleep Deprived

Long-term risks associated with continual sleep deprivation include increased likelihoods of stroke, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Excess weight is a prime culprit contributing to sleep apnea, a disorder where your breathing actually stops several times over the course of a night. Sleep apnea leads to less restful sleep, which in turn affects your eating habits – and the cycle continues.