Dangers of lack of sleep at night – you may not be sure how dangerous sleep deprivation can be in various aspects, both directly and indirectly. Sleep is a mandatory need for everyone, regardless of age. Newborn babies require more sleep, while adults and the elderly should ideally get around seven to eight hours of sleep. However, sometimes adults and the elderly cannot meet their sleep needs. There are various reasons for this, including work-related activities and psychological conditions. The problem is that sleep is truly beneficial for the body. One of its benefits is that it can enhance the body’s immune system, regulate metabolism, increase productivity, and provide various other advantages. However, it turns out that the habit of sleep deprivation can lead to unexpected dangers.
Here are some problems and dangers associated with sleep deprivation
- Learning Power Problems: For students, university students, or anyone undergoing a study program, sleep deprivation can lead to cognitive impairment. This is because sleep deprivation can make the brain less focused, impair memory, hinder logical reasoning, and make it difficult to find solutions to problems. For those pursuing studies, this can lead to complex issues such as delayed graduation and reduced performance. Sleep helps the brain naturally undergo processes that enhance memory and store information.
- Traffic Accidents: Drowsiness due to lack of sleep is a common cause of road accidents. This problem is often encountered in both public transport and private vehicles. Falling asleep while driving can result in hallucinations, drifting, and reduced alertness. The consequences can be significant, endangering one’s life and the lives of other road users. Therefore, it is essential to ensure you get adequate sleep before driving long or short distances.
- Reduced Libido: For married couples, sleep deprivation can lead to severe libido problems. This condition can be attributed to low energy levels, uncontrollable sleepiness, and male health issues such as impotence and premature ejaculation.
- Lower Testosterone Levels in Men: Men who have late-night routines or engage in other sleep-depriving activities are at risk of having low testosterone levels. This can result in reduced fertility and lower sexual desire in men. The effects can be significant because hormonal balance affects the body’s metabolism. Hormone therapy can be used to address this issue, but it may have unintended side effects.
- Stress: Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to severe stress. This often occurs in people who habitually sleep less than six hours a day. Common signs include excessive worrying, increased sensitivity, irritability, and poor physical health. Stress can contribute to various diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
- Poor Skin Performance: Skin serves as an indicator of overall health. Individuals with poor sleep habits tend to have dull, pale, sagging, wrinkled skin with fine lines. Women with such routines may also develop dark circles under their eyes. This is due to increased production of the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to less elastic and less pliable skin.
- Hindering Development: Newborn babies require more sleep, and their sleep needs decrease with age. During sleep, various metabolic processes necessary for growth occur without our awareness. Therefore, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to weaker muscles, weaker bones, and less elastic skin. It can even cause damage to clusters of cells in various parts of the body.
- Weight Gain: Lack of sleep generally leads to an increased appetite and excessive hunger. This can result in overeating and obesity. Increased feelings of hunger due to sleep deprivation are caused by the release of the hormone leptin, which signals the brain to have a larger appetite. Consuming foods high in fat and carbohydrates can lead to weight gain. Obesity can further increase the risk of other health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
- Poor Memory: Sleep deprivation can lead to forgetfulness, which can be embarrassing. During sleep, the brain works to remember, store memories, and process data received from small nerves during wakefulness. Therefore, when sleep-deprived, your brain cannot perform these functions correctly. This can result in forgetfulness and decreased alertness. Short-term signal stimulation in the brain plays a crucial role in memory function.
- Irritability or Inconsistent Emotions: Sleep deprivation can disrupt brain function. One of the less pleasant effects of disturbed brain function is increased irritability and unstable emotions. This can pose problems for social relationships, especially for teenagers and adults. Inconsistent emotional reactions can lead to unpleasant emotional states.
- High Blood Pressure: Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to hypertension or high blood pressure. Sleep helps neutralize blood vessels and heart mechanisms for optimal function. However, when sleep is consistently inadequate, high blood pressure can result from blood vessels and the heart not functioning properly. This can be very risky for individuals already suffering from hypertension.
- Weak Immunity: When the body is asleep, it is still working, but we may not be fully aware of it. During sleep, the body continues to produce cytokines and antibodies that can combat infections. These substances protect the body from viral and bacterial attacks, especially when the body is challenged by these microbes during sleep. Therefore, insufficient sleep can lead to a weakened immune system and reduced immunity.
- Flu/Influenza: Influenza is a disease caused by a viral infection. If you have a habit of sleep deprivation, you may be at a higher risk of contracting it. This is because your body lacks a robust immune defense mechanism. As a result, your body may become weaker and less productive. Symptoms of the flu typically manifest upon waking up and can worsen if not treated and rested adequately.
- Hallucinations: Severe sleep problems such as insomnia and sleep paralysis often occur in individuals with poor sleep habits. The body responds poorly when forced to sleep at the wrong time. Common symptoms include headaches, fatigue, and difficulty falling asleep. If this continues, it can increase the risk of acute illnesses and compromise the immune system.
- Risk of Dementia: While sleeping, the brain continues to work to obtain energy. Brain mechanisms work to remember initial memories, store various memories, and stimulate the brain’s stimulants. However, when sleep is insufficient, the brain cannot perform these functions. This results in memory decline and other cognitive impairments. The risk of dementia, characterized by frequent forgetfulness and difficulty focusing, is higher.
- Unconscious Sleep: Short naps or unconscious sleep often occur in people who are sleep-deprived. In such cases, the body reacts poorly to being forced to sleep prematurely. Symptoms may include headaches, body fatigue, and difficulty sleeping. Continual experiences of unconscious sleep can increase the risk of weakening the immune system and other acute illnesses.
- Cognitive Problems: Cognitive problems often arise because the brain does not receive proper mechanisms when the body is sleep-deprived. The brain continues to work to gather energy and enable nerve signals to function correctly. However, chronic sleep deprivation can result in severe cognitive problems, especially in children, students, and adults. Children may experience delayed cognitive development, leading to lower intelligence. Children can also face physical and mental development issues.
- Death and Sudden Death: Death can occur when the body has experienced complex problems. Complex sleep deprivation-related diseases, such as heart attacks, high blood pressure, and diabetes, can lead to death. Sleep deprivation problems typically accumulate over time, gradually weakening the body. It is essential to get enough sleep to allow the body to rest adequately.
- Reduced Productivity: When the body is sleep-deprived, it generally feels uncomfortable. Various issues such as emotions, extreme daytime sleepiness, irritability, sensitivity, and lethargy often arise. Consequently, productivity decreases. Students or adults may struggle to perform well in their studies or jobs. Chronic sleep deprivation can affect performance and future prospects.
- Excessive Daytime Napping: If you suffer from insomnia at night due to poor sleep habits, avoid napping during the day or in the afternoon. Daytime napping can lead to restlessness and difficulty sleeping at night.
- Lack of Innovation: Creativity is crucial for achieving academic and professional success. Although each person’s creativity can be efficient for their respective goals, sleep-deprived individuals tend to be less innovative. This is because the brain cannot manage its functions properly, resulting in fatigue, weakness, excessive fatigue, and poor decision-making. In professions that rely on innovation, reduced creativity can significantly affect performance.
- Eating Habits: Lack of sleep can lead to significant weight loss and a thinner body. This is because sleep helps regulate the production of the appetite-controlling hormone leptin. When you are sleep-deprived, the body may not control your appetite correctly.
- Psychological Function: Psychological function is essential for the body and brain to function correctly. Adequate sleep helps control psychological functions, preventing stress, emotional problems, and excessive gloominess. Chronic sleep deprivation can result in higher psychological stress, often accompanied by reduced focus, increased irritability, and oversensitivity. This can cause issues in the workplace.
- Fertility Issues in Women: Women with irregular sleep schedules or frequent sleep deprivation may experience chronic fertility problems. This is because sleep contributes to the production of reproductive hormones, increasing the chances of pregnancy. However, women who consistently lack sleep may face fertility problems, along with irregular menstruation and emotional distress.
- Risk of Bone Damage: Bone density problems can occur in individuals with poor sleep habits. A 2012 study demonstrated that mineral and spinal cord density significantly decreases when the body does not get enough sleep. This can increase the risk of osteoporosis. Women are particularly at risk, as bone density continues to decline after menopause.
- Cancer Risk: A 2010 study indicated that sleep deprivation can increase the risk of cancer. This can occur because sleep is essential for cell productivity and immune system function. When sleep is lacking, cell mechanisms may not function correctly, resulting in cell damage and tissue damage. This situation worsens when numerous cells are damaged, functioning poorly, and rapidly deteriorating. Breast cancer patients may also be at risk of recurrence if they consistently lack sleep.
Tips for Getting Sufficient and Comfortable Sleep
- Establish a regular sleep pattern and wake up at the same time every day. This helps your body automatically adjust to sleep. You can adapt it to your daily activities.
- Create a comfortable sleeping environment by turning off the lights and changing your sheets and pillowcases to keep them clean and comfortable.
- Make your sleep environment more comfortable by listening to relaxing music.
- If you have a habit of having difficulty sleeping at night, avoid sleeping during the day or in the afternoon. Napping at that time can lead to restlessness and difficulty sleeping at night.
- Engage in regular exercise or physical activity every day. You can do various activities like walking, running, or exercising.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, or smoking, as they can make it difficult for you to sleep at night.
- Avoid consuming foods high in carbohydrates and fat close to bedtime.
- Engage in light activities before bedtime, such as reading a book while relaxing until you feel sleepy.
- Avoid using a computer or mobile phone because the blue light from these devices can make your brain active and make it difficult to sleep.
- Sleep in a place or room that you find most comfortable according to your daily mood.
There are various ways to manage sleep difficulties. Remember that there are many health risks associated with sleep deprivation, so it is essential to prioritize getting enough sleep and avoiding late-night activities that can increase the risk of acute illnesses.