7 Ways Sleep Deprivation Is Killing You and What You Can Do About It

sleep deprivation is not just unpleasant; it's dangerous

Sleep deprived? There’s a dentist who can help you sleep  at night.

Are you losing out on sleep? One sleepless night after another might leave you feeling miserable. Whether your mind won’t stop racing or you’re burning the midnight oil, not getting adequate rest does more than make you grumpy. Sleep deprivation adversely affects both your mind and body, potentially leading to slow deterioration and chronic problems. 

For adults getting less than the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep, certain side effects can appear quickly. Red puffy eyes, dark circles, and excessive yawning are common signs of not getting enough deep sleep. But what else does it do to your body? Sleep deprivation may be slowly killing you. Here’s how. 

1. Sleep deprivation decreases your cognitive abilities. 

Lack of sleep disrupts your cognitive abilities, impacting your ability to complete routine tasks and remember things. It lowers your attentiveness, reasoning, and concentration, and also alters your problem-solving abilities. When you are too tired, learning new skills becomes challenging because your brain cannot store what you have learned. 

2. Lack of sleep affects your mood. 

Lack of sleep can negatively affect your mood, mental health, and well-being. People who don’t get enough deep sleep tend to battle irritability and anger or experience general anxiety and depression. Your career can also be impacted by your aggressive or worried feelings at work, preventing you from reaching your goals.       

3. Sleep loss weakens your immune system. 

Another symptom of sleep loss is a weakened immune system over time. When you’re asleep, your immune system releases a protein called cytokines that promote healthy sleep

If you have an infection or inflammation or feel stressed, some cytokines increase. Sleep deprivation may limit the production of these proteins, making you more susceptible to illnesses like the flu or the common cold. 

4. Sleep deprivation contributes to weight gain. 

Sleeping allows your body to produce hormones that manage your appetite. Without adequate sleep, you begin craving sweet or salty foods. Sleeping less than six hours a night may increase your chances of becoming obese compared to those who sleep over seven hours a night.

5. It increases your risk of diabetes. 

Sleeping also gives your body a chance to regulate your hormones. Without sleep, hormones like cortisol become irregular. Cortisol keeps your body awake, but an overabundance leads to high blood sugar. In an attempt to balance higher blood sugar levels, your pancreas produces extra insulin to process the excess sugar in your body.

As your body produces more cortisol, it becomes harder for insulin to do its job. This leads to unhealthy amounts of sugar in your blood. Eventually, the pancreas cannot maintain accurate blood sugar levels, causing type II diabetes.  

6. Sleeplessness worsens pain. 

Sleep deprivation puts you at a higher risk of developing pain or feeling like your pain is worsening because your body doesn’t have the time it needs to sufficiently heal. In turn, the pain may cause more sleep interruptions and perpetuate the cycle of increasing pain and lack of sleep.  

7. A lack of sleep contributes to poor heart health. 

Sleep is a necessity in helping the body recuperate. Your heart rate slows, your blood pressure decreases, and your breathing stabilizes. These factors reduce stress on your heart, allowing it to recover from its hard work during waking hours.

Lack of sleep means you will spend less time in the deep sleep state that contributes to heart health. The same problem affects those who suffer from sleep apnea. As a result, sleep deprivation has been linked to the following heart-related problems

  • High blood pressure. 
  • High cholesterol.
  • Heart attacks. 
  • Heart failure. 
  • Irregular heartbeat. 
  • Heart disease. 

Getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep will help prevent problems with your heart, allowing you to live a fully active life.    

What can I do to improve my sleep? 

With your busy life, it can feel challenging to get enough sleep. But you can do a few things to help improve your sleep. Start by sticking to a routine sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time in the morning, including on the weekends.

Avoid artificial light within a few hours of bedtime. Place a blue light filter on your computer or smartphone to limit exposure. Spend time outdoors to get natural light. 

Incorporate a short walk in the morning or at lunchtime. This will increase physical activity that will help improve your sleep too.  

If you’ve tried these tips and still feel like you’re getting insufficient sleep, consider having a sleep apnea evaluation. This common condition causes you to stop breathing while you sleep. Your brain responds by waking you up, preventing you from getting a restful sleep. 

A Newport Beach dentist can custom create a sleep apnea appliance for you to help improve your sleep.    

A dentist can help you get more sleep. 

If you’re tired of dreaming about a good night’s rest, help may be closer than you think. There are many resources for people who can’t sleep, like a Newport Beach dentist who offers sleep apnea treatment services. We can discuss your sleeping habits and whether a sleep apnea appliance is right for you. 

So, there you have it. Sleep is important for many reasons and affects more than just our energy levels. If you’re someone who struggles to get enough sleep, and you want to know if a sleep appliance could help, contact Dr. Desai and the team at Luminous Smiles to schedule an appointment today.