How Sleep Deprivation Affects the Body

Like food, air and water, sleep is a necessity. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night for the average adult aged 25-64. Prolonged lack of sleep can cause your body’s systems to fail to function properly, opening the gateway to very real health issues, such as chronic illness, impaired short- and long-term memory, and risk of injury or death due to impaired coordination and cognitive function caused by sleep deprivation. In fact, studies conducted by Harvard Medical School show that sleeping less than five hours a night increases the risk of death from all causes, accidental and physiological, by about 15 percent.

Sleep deprivation affects our bodies much more than just a feeling of tiredness the following day. A lack of sleep can negatively impact your whole lifestyle. Multiple systems within your body suffer effects of sleep deprivation ranging from mild to severe, including:

  • Central Nervous System- If your body were a computer, your central nervous system would be its operating system. The brain requires an adequate amount of sleep to keep it functioning properly, in order to rest neurons and form new pathways, essentially rebooting your whole body each time you sleep. Sleep deprivation leaves the brain exhausted and unable to perform cognitive tasks well. A lack of sleep can also interfere with your ability to concentrate, learn new things, and recall items from short-term memory. In more severe cases of sleep deprivation, your emotional well-being can be compromised, causing episodes of mania, depression, paranoia and even suicidal thoughts. People who have gone several days without sleep have reported hallucinations. Perhaps most serious of all, a phenomenon known as “micro sleep,’ which causes a sleep-deprived individual to unwittingly fall asleep for moments at a time, has played a role in numerous land, air and sea accidents when the operator of the vehicle fell asleep behind the controls.
  • Immune System-The immune system is responsible for producing antibodies and cytokines, which fight and protect against all kinds of viruses, bacteria and other foreign substances that compromise your health. When you are sleep-deprived, your immune system doesn’t have an opportunity to build up the infection-fighting cells and antibodies it needs to keep threats to your health at bay. If you are run-down from a lack of sleep, you are more likely to contract an illness. Sleep deprivation can also slow your recovery time from an illness, and raises your risk of developing chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic.
  • Respiratory System- Since your immune system is put at risk by a lack of sleep, you are more susceptible to respiratory viruses like the common cold and flu if you are sleep-deprived. Additionally, individuals who already suffer from a chronic lung disease will find that their conditions worsen when they are not getting enough sleep.

Lifestyle Advice From Family Chiropractic Care

Other systems in your body, such as the digestive and cardiovascular systems, are also negatively impacted by a lack of sleep. Chronic conditions including obesity, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes have all been linked to sleep deprivation. The simplest course of action to combat the negative effects of sleep deprivation is to incorporate positive lifestyle changes, such as logging more hours of sleep and participating in relaxing activities, into your routine. For more lifestyle advice to help you live a healthier, happier life, contact Family Chiropractic Care today at 360-636-2636 or schedule an appointment