Many of us have experienced tired, cranky and spending the day in nod after spending a night while tossing and turning. But you will feel something more than just being groggy and grumpy after missing a shut-eye sleep for recommended hours. Although we all know that sleep deprivation has some adverse effects on our health, what are they?

Well, the long-term sleep deprivation causes devastation to your body systems, it’s true. Sleep deprivation shakes your mental health, puts your physical health at stake. It causes problems like weight gain and weakens the immune system.

Read below to get to know how sleep deprivation affects different systems of the body. But first, get to know what sleep deprivation is?

What is sleep deprivation? Sleep deprivation means not getting recommended sleep. The recommended sleep for an adult is seven to eight hours per night. Continuous sleep deprivation leads to health problems.

What are the causes of sleep deprivation? Although sleep deprivation is not a disease in itself, it is the side effect or result of certain other health disorders, medicines or other life circumstances.

Sleep deprivation is more common in older people rather than young adults. However, older people need the same duration of sleep as much as young people. Yet, a large older population sleep lightly and for lesser hours.

Few common causes of sleep deprivation are

Sleeping Disorder: These include sleep apnoea, narcolepsy, insomnia GERD Ageing: It affects the sleeping pattern because of health disorders and sometimes medicine Illness: common issues are depression, chronic pain syndrome, Alzheimer’s, cancer, stroke Some of the other factors are late-night awakening habits, particularly in young kids, new-born baby or change of environment. What are the symptoms? sleep deprivation Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on At first, the symptoms are minor, but over time, the problem can become severe. Early symptoms are

Drowsiness Decreased concentration Memory loss Physical tiredness Becoming more prone to infections Severe symptoms include an increased risk of developing disorders such as

Depression Hallucinations Stroke Asthma Severe mood swings Insomnia Narcolepsy What is the treatment of sleep deprivation? Treatment of the problem depends on the severity of the issue. For the first step, the doctor may not prescribe the medicine and want you to adopt self-care methods. For more serious disorders the doctor may try specific other treatment plans such as

Sleeping pills: but the drugs efficacy keeps on decreasing after a few weeks of Light therapy: it can help a person with serious insomnia. Light therapy includes the readjustment of the internal biological clock. CPAP machine: another option in the person suffering from sleep apnoea is the use of continuous positive airway pressure machine. The device provides a constant flow of air through a mask and keeps the airway open. How to prevent sleep deprivation? Simple strategies can make a difference and improve your sleep. A regular exercise of a half an hour daily exercise makes you fall asleep better at night. Another way is to reduce the intake of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol helps you to sleep better.

Quitting smoking limiting day-time naps refraining from caffeine past noon going to bed at the same time each night waking up at the same time every morning sticking to your bedtime schedule during weekends and holidays spending an hour before bed doing relaxing activities such as taking a hot bath, reading a book, meditating, avoiding heavy meals before bedtime refraining from using electronic devices right before bed exercising regularly during day-time reducing alcohol intake Quitting smoking If the problem continues, then consult your doctor for diagnosis of an underlying health condition.

Effects of sleep deprivation Sleep deprivation can have profound and long-lasting effects on health. The negative effects of sleep deprivation can result in physical, mental and psychological disorders. A few major systems affecting by the problem are discussed below.

Central nervous system The central nervous system is the information gateway of the body. Adequate sleep is required to keep this system running properly as sleep deprivation affects the processing of information in the brain.

New pathways are formed between nerve cells during sleep that is helpful to remember the information you learn. In the absence of sleep, the brain feels exhausted and does not perform its functions well. Sleep-deprived people are not able to concentrate and learn new things. It also reduces the coordination between mind and brain and increases the chances of delayed response to signals.

Irregular sleep patterns also harm the mental abilities and emotional well-being of a person. It badly affects the decision making and creative skills of a person. Long-term sleep deprivation can result in psychological disorders. Some of them are

Hallucinations-listening and hearing things which are not real Bipolar mood disorder Impulsive behaviour Anxiety Depression Paranoia Suicidal thoughts Immune system During sleep, the immune system produces antibodies and cytokines. These are substances that are important to fight against foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria in the body. Specific cytokines in the immune system help to improve sleep and gives the immune system more strength to defend the body against diseases.

Sleep deprivation prevents the immune system from defending the body against diseases in an effective way. Long term lack of sleep makes a person more prone to diseases such as diabetes mellitus and heart problems.

Respiratory system The relationship between sleep and respiratory system has interlinked both ways. Obstructive sleep apnoea is a nighttime disorder that reduces sleep quality by interrupting the sleep.

When you wake up at night time and again, it results in sleep deprivation, leaving a person more vulnerable to respiratory infections. It causes common cold, flu and even makes existing respiratory problems like chronic lung illness worse.

Sleep deprivation causes weight gain In addition to overeating and not exercising, a significant risk factor to cause obesity is sleep deprivation. Sleep affects the levels of leptin and ghrelin, the hormones responsible for fullness and hunger, respectively. In the absence of enough sleep, the brain reduces the leptin and raises the levels of ghrelin. The flux of this appetite stimulant can explain the factor of night snacking, leading to obesity.

Decreased sleep can make a person feel tired and physically inactive during the day. Overtime reduces physical activity and makes you obese because of less calorie burning.

Another contributing factor of less sleep-in weight gain is a low level of insulin production after eating. Besides, sleep deprivation also causes a rise in body’s tolerance against glucose. This disruption leads to decreased insulin production and increased obesity.

Cardiac system According to a study linking insomnia, heart attack, and stroke shows-the risk of these diseases increases in sleep-deprived people. Sleep affects the process that helps to keep hearts and blood vessels healthy.

Sleep also gas a significant role in increasing the body’s ability in the repair and healing of blood vessels and cardiac tissues. researchers also believe that inadequate sleep leads to disturbance in underlying health processes such as glucose metabolism, blood pressure and inflammation.

Another study claims that there is a relation between sleep apnoea and cardiac health. Men with sleep apnoea are 58% more prone to developing cardiac problems than men who sleep adequately at night.

Endocrine system Sleep plays a pivotal role in hormone production. At least 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep is necessary for testosterone production. Waking up, again and again, can interrupt hormone production.

Interrupted sleep also affects the production of growth hormones, particularly in kids. Moreover, the growth hormone is also required to build muscle mass and repair of cells and tissues.

Though the growth hormone is released by pituitary gland throughout the day, meanwhile the adequate sleep is necessary to help the release of this hormone.

Conclusion Sleep deprivation affects all the systems of the body including physical and mental health. Sleep is important in all age groups and lack of it can affect the cognitive abilities of a person. However, its effects can be devastating for the younger population, as they are in the developing phase.

Sleeping disorders should not be ignored at any stage of life. Proper medical care and remedies should be adopted to minimise the loss in future.

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