5 Effects Sleep Deprivation Has On Your Body

5 Effects Sleep Deprivation Has On Your Body

We all know that sluggish and irritable feeling we get when we haven’t had enough sleep. But do you know about the changes that are going on in your body when we don’t get the recommended 7-9 hours of shut-eye?


Metabolism changes

Sleep deprivation can cause reduced leptin levels and increased ghrelin levels. This essentially makes you feel hungrier, leading to over-eating and weight gain. There can also be increased insulin release, hence more fat storage and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.


Mood changes

You may get more easily irritated or impatient- I’m sure we’ve all been short-tempered after a poor night’s sleep. But it can be more serious, as chronic sleep deprivation can escalate to anxiety or depression. Thus, sleep is incredibly important for our mental health!


Diminished concentration and memory

REM sleep (when we dream) is thought to be when memory consolidation occurs. Not having this sleep can have serious effects on memory. This, coupled with reduced concentration levels, can make it harder to focus and work.


Decreased motor skills

Neurological function is diminished and you might feel ‘spaced out’. You might be more likely to trip or make errors when performing a practical skill. A study showed that junior doctors in the USA who had less sleep made 35% more serious medical errors than the junior doctors under the intervention sleep schedule, including 5.6 times more serious diagnostic errors. So sleep is good for you and your future patients!


Increased pain and infection

The immune system lapses as a result of not having enough sleep, as cytokines are produced during sleep. Fewer cytokines mean less inflammation control and defence against pathogens, making it more likely that you will get ill or that it will take longer to recover if you are already ill.


Sometimes we are so busy with our lives that we don’t even realise we are sleep deprived! Make your health a priority and spot the signs of sleep deprivation, and the effects it is having on your body.


About the Author

Hi, I’m Sumona and I’m a UCL medical student. I’m passionate about medical education and I hope that my posts are interesting and inspiring for you. Check out my personal blog for posts on travel, food and my experiences being a student in London!


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