The amount of sleep we need as we age varies but mostly goes down from newborn to adult, with seven hours being the lowest amount of sleep we need. However, it’s possible to spend the correct number of hours in bed—thinking you’re asleep—and not get a healthy amount of sleep. Sleep deprivation damages all your body’s systems, impairs function, and can cause accidents, hurting you and others. 

adult man sleeping in dark room bedSleep Isn’t Optional

Most of us know that sleep isn’t optional, but it’s a low priority when we have other obligations. However, deprioritizing rest won’t allow you to get more done, so fixing your sleep habits is essential. Read the effects of sleep deprivation below and find out how to get more sleep. 

Changes in Your Brain

One of the first things you’ll notice when you aren’t getting enough quality sleep is the effects on your brain. You’ll start to get headaches, be moody, have memory issues, and have trouble concentrating and thinking. These effects can be very frustrating, which leads to stress and more of the same. 

During sleep, your body releases a fluid that washes over your brain, called cerebrospinal fluid. This fluid has many purposes, but one of its primary functions is to clean the brain of toxic proteins while you sleep. Unfortunately, this bath doesn’t happen the moment you fall asleep. It happens during deep sleep, so you have to get through two other stages before reaching it. Then, it happens several times per night. Just once isn’t enough. If toxic proteins are allowed to build, you’ll experience memory issues, trouble concentrating, and maybe even early dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. Sleep deprivation can actually age your brain by 3-5 years!

Your mood will also suffer from not getting enough sleep. You’ll feel stressed, irritable, frustrated, and sad which can lead to depression and anxiety.

Functional Impairment

Besides having trouble thinking, you’ll experience other functional problems, too, such as poor balance and a low sex drive. 

A study from 2021 followed 30 college students. 10 of them were subject to one night of sleep deprivation and were then tested against the other students by walking on a treadmill to the beat of a metronome. Researchers found that the students with sleep deprivation missed beats, were off rhythm, and did significantly worse than those allowed to sleep. This small study shows that even one night without sleep can cause coordination problems. When you go for much longer without sleep or low-quality sleep, you’ll find it harder to coordinate your body.

Lack of sleep can cause low libido, infertility in men and women, and erectile dysfunction. Without sleep, your body won’t produce the hormones needed for arousal or healthy sperm and egg production.

Safety Concerns 

Do you feel drowsy at the wheel or so sleepy at work that you shouldn’t be handling machinery? Sleep deprivation causes significant safety concerns for you and those around you. 600 fatal car accidents are caused by sleeping at the wheel per year, and 1 in 25 reports falling asleep at the wheel in any given month.

According to OSHA, fatigued workers make critical safety errors. Injury rates increase by 18% during evening shifts and 30% during night shifts compared to day shifts. When you experience sleep deprivation, you shouldn’t operate machinery. Because many workers don’t have that option, their only option is to get quality sleep.

Damage to Your Health

The damage that a lack of sleep can do to your overall health is numerous. 

  • Risk of Diabetes: Sleep deprivation causes insulin resistance, increasing your blood sugar levels. 
  • Weight Gain: When you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t have the motivation to be active. Furthermore, your body can’t produce as much leptin, which is the chemical that tells you when you’re full and to stop eating. 
  • Risk of Heart Disease: Prolonged high blood pressure from lack of sleep can turn into heart disease.
  • High Blood Pressure: Hormones regulate your blood pressure. Your blood pressure will rise if they aren’t produced or produced in high enough quantities. 
  • Weakened Immune System: If you don’t get enough sleep, you’re more likely to get sick when exposed to viruses like a cold. You won’t recover as quickly either. 

It’s really in your best interest to get good, quality sleep. 

Sleep Apnea May Be Causing Your Sleep Deprivation

Have you heard of sleep apnea? It’s a sleep disorder where you experience stoppages in breathing while asleep for at least 10 seconds, but it can last a minute or longer. And it can happen hundreds of times per night. After some time, your brain will realize that it’s not getting enough oxygen or expelling Co2 and awaken your body to resume breathing. You likely won’t notice these awakenings as they are brief, but its enough to stop your body and brain from getting through a whole sleep cycle, causing sleep deprivation. The dangers of sleep deprivation are the same as the dangers associated with sleep apnea.

If you think you may have sleep apnea, be sure to get a sleep test and help from your Warren, Michigan, sleep dentist.

Step 1: Take Charge of Your Health and Make an Appointment

The first step in treating your sleep apnea is to decide to take charge of your health and make an appointment. The symptoms of sleep apnea are debilitating and life-threatening. Don’t wait. Make an appointment today by calling (586) 573-0438.

Step 2: Take an At-Home Sleep Test

After you speak with a sleep dentist, you’ll take an at-home sleep test. The test lasts two nights, but you can do it from your own bed. You’ll send your test results to be interpreted and then receive your diagnosis.

Step 3: Get Treatment at the Michigan Head & Neck Institute

If you indeed have sleep apnea, you can receive treatment right here in Warren with doctors Richard Klein and Chad Witkow. Take charge of your health and life today. Call (586) 573-0438 or make an appointment online.