If you’re someone who finds yourself often lethargic and fatigued, you might just be sleep deprived. Not getting enough rest can lead you to become physically weakened and mentally unprepared to take on the day. Unfortunately, there are long-term effects of insomnia that often go unaddressed.
An average adult should be sleeping seven to nine hours per day. However, a recent study has shown that Singaporeans are among the most sleep-deprived populations in the world, averaging at only slightly more than six hours a night. This is a piece of worrying information since a lack of sleep can be attributed to conditions like type 2 diabetes, obesity, depression, and heart disease.
But are there any other implications of not sleeping well?
1. Memory loss
As you sleep, your brain is constantly forming connections. These connections are created to help you understand and recall information you’ve gleaned recently. If you cannot get your daily required amount of sleep, you will be unable to make many of these connections. As a result, both your long and short-term memory can be severely impeded.
2. Lowered immunity
Your immune system begins to shut down when you consistently go without a good amount of sleep. People who are sleep deprived have been known to have a lower white blood cell count. This means you’re more vulnerable to infections since there’s limited antibody response.
Additionally, the protein responsible for helping with inflammation, stress, and infections called cytokines is released at lower rates when you don’t sleep. Your body’s defences struggle to fight off colds and even cases of the flu because of the weakened immune response.
3. Fluctuating moods
Being cranky after a poor night’s sleep is inevitable. However, a sustained lack of sleep can lead to emotional outbursts and a shorter temper. You may even feel yourself spiralling into bouts of anxiety or depression. These feelings can be incredibly hard to live with and may damage social and interpersonal relationships if left untreated.
4. Weight gain
When you cannot sleep, the chemicals in your brain that tell you that you’re no longer hungry no longer function as they should. Consequently, you will continue to eat despite being full. With the sluggishness you feel and the lack of movement that results from that, you start to eat more calories than you should and begin to gain weight.
5. Risk of diabetes and heart disease
Insulin can only be released into a well-rested body. This can be problematic since insulin is the hormone responsible for lowering your blood sugar levels. If blood sugar levels increase higher than expected, you will be at risk of contracting type 2 diabetes.
Sleep deprivation can also lead to heightened blood pressure and the release of chemicals that cause inflammation. Both of these factors can go on to trigger heart disease.
As you can see, the importance of sleep cannot be emphasised enough. Despite how commonplace it is, sleep deprivation can be a severe issue. If you have been unable to fall and stay asleep regularly, do not hesitate to reach out to a doctor today.
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