10 health problems that lack of sleep can cause

10 Health problems due to lack of sleep

Are you feeling fatigue, drowsy, stressed and lethargic often?

Have you ever thought it may be due to restless nights?

Many of us do not realize that a lack of sleep, especially on a regular basis is associated with long-term health consequences, including chronic medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, also these conditions may lead to a shortened life expectancy.

Over a period of time, I learnt that sleep deprivation causes numerous health risks that leads to stress, anxiety and mood swings. I realized the fact that focus on proper sound sleep for 7-8 hrs, helped to retrieve myself from sleep disorders and also the outcome was enormous both in terms of personal and professional life.

Based on my experience, this article gives an idea about the cumulative long-term effects of sleep loss.

What is Sleep Deprivation?

10 Health problems due to lack of sleep

In a nutshell, sleep deprivation is a condition caused by consistent lack of sleep or reduced quality of sleep.

Getting less than 7 hours of sleep on a regular basis can eventually lead to health consequences that can affect your entire body.

The reasons for insufficient sleep may vary depending on late night sleep, irregular nap time, prolonged screen time and workloads.

Blink on to take a glance on 10 health complications due to lack of sleep!

1. Obesity:

Sleep deprivation is another risk factor for becoming overweight and obese. Sleep affects the levels of two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, which control feelings of hunger and fullness.

Without enough sleep, your brain signals imbalance of these hormones, which is an appetite stimulant – causes overnight snacking.

Prolonged sleep loss makes you inactive, thus reduced physical activity which results in weight gain (Energy in > Energy out). The shorter the sleep, the greater the obesity and also contributes to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

2. Diabetes:

Lack of sleep affects your body’s release of insulin - hormone which controls your blood sugar levels. Meanwhile, your body secretes more stress hormones (such as cortisol), which helps you stay awake but makes it harder for insulin to do its job effectively. Thus, causing higher blood sugar levels and an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

In addition, getting too little sleep can increase your appetite and reduce your level of satiety, causing you to crave carbohydrates and sugary foods, in particular.

3. Cardiovascular disease:

Disturbed sleep affects processes that keep your heart and blood vessels healthy, including those that affect your blood sugar, blood pressure, and inflammation levels.

It also plays a vital role in your body’s ability to heal and repair the blood vessels and normal function of heart. Specifically, ongoing sleep loss results in other related complications like heart attack, stroke, atherosclerosis, etc.

4. Hypertension:

Sleep alters nervous system function and other physiologic events that influence blood pressure (BP). Furthermore, sleep disorders alter the BP response and increase hypertension risk.

Over time, a lack of sleep could hurt your body's ability to regulate stress hormones, leading to high blood pressure.

5. Anxiety:

10 Health problems due to lack of sleep

The risks of inadequate sleep extend way beyond tiredness as new research suggests sleep deprivation can cause an anxiety disorder.
It also shows that people with chronic insomnia (difficulty in falling asleep) are at high risk of developing an anxiety disorder.

6. Depression:

When sleep is disrupted or inadequate, it can lead to increased tension and irritability. Lack of sleep caused by another medical illness makes a person more depressed due to disturbed mental health.

Depression is a serious health concern which arises due to sleep loss. 

7. Mood Disorders:

Furthermore, you find yourself in a vicious cycle of inactivity and disturbed sleep, which causes both physical and mood-related symptoms. Even partial sleep deprivation has a significant effect on mood. Sleepless nights make one more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted.

8. Weakens Immune Function:

Yes, lack of sleep can affect your immune system. During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Cytokines need increases when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you're under stress.
Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines and antibodies. So, your body needs proper sleep to fight infectious diseases.

Research shows that people who don't get quality sleep are more prone to get sick due to weakened immune functions and results in other chronic health conditions as your body may not be able to fight the invaders, and it may also take you longer to recover from illness.

9. Lack of Concentration:

 Mentally, poor sleep may result in poorer concentration and memory. In research studies, sleep deprived people have shown impairments in both sustained attention and memory performance.

It also leads to lower alertness and concentration. It’s more difficult to focus and pay attention, so you’re more easily confused. This hampers your ability to perform tasks that require logical reasoning or complex thought.

10. Slow Reaction:

Sleepiness makes your reaction time slower, a special problem when driving or doing work or other tasks that require a quick response.

Shift workers who work at night or work long or irregular hours and people with untreated sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and narcolepsy are also at high risk of causing accidents.

Snoozy Glimpse!

Nowadays, people aren’t focusing on proper sleep and it becomes their least priority because of – family, personal stuff, work life, prolonged screen time, increase in usage of electronic gadgets and so on.

Therefore, sufficient sleep or resting time is necessary according to the age factor, for better health and quality life.




Indu Vaishnavi R, Dietician

Indu Vaishnavi, is a Consultant Dietitian with 10+ years of expertise as Corporate Nutritionist and Food Safety Auditor.

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