Didn't get enough sleep again? 4 ways sleep deprivation damages your body and your mind

You know you should always sleep for 7-8 hours. You can feel when your body didn‘t get enough sleep. And yet sometimes you just cannot go to bed on time and end up sleeping less than ideal. But do you know what happens to your body and mind because of sleep deprivation? Prerna Varma and Hailey Meaklim, PhD researchers in the RMIT Sleep Lab, say that sleep deprivation has 4 huge negative effects.

Sleep deprivation ruins your cognitive performance and has a negative impact on your body. Image credit: Ales Krivec via Wikimedia

Your mind doesn’t work very well

Our brains need sleep to rest, heal and consolidate memories. If you don’t sleep enough, hippocampus, the memory centre of the brain, is not as active as it should be. This means that it is more difficult to recall certain memories, because they were simply not encoded during sleep. But it is not just memory – you are still tired and so your attention span is shorter, you struggle to concentrate and execute tasks that are in front of you. It is more difficult to go on autopilot mode.

Your reaction time is terrible

If you are feeling sleepy, don’t drive. If you are going to drive in the morning, get a good night rest. Even if you feel you are fit to drive, you may not be if you are deprived of sleep. Slower reaction times cause a lot of accidents and in many cases completely innocent people die. Sleep longer and stay sharp if you are going to drive or operate any kind of machinery.

You become cranky and sad

You know that people who didn’t get enough sleep are not the best people to talk to. They are cranky, moody and easily irritated. And that’s just because they are still tired. You have to sleep to be able to relax and be reasonable, but that’s not just that.

Scientists also say that sleep deprivation is a significant factor in development of depression. Your emotional responses are so messed up that it is easy to fall down a spiral of self-loathing and general sadness. Give your brain time to reset – do that for yourself and for people who have to deal with cranky you.

You may get seriously sick

Sleep is when our bodies heal and replace the damaged bits. Sleep deprivations puts you at higher risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and several other chronic medical conditions. It does so in a variety of ways. For example, sleep deprivation increases ghrelin levels, which means that you are hungrier. You eat more unhealthy food when you do not sleep enough. And then you are too tired to exercise. Heart attacks and strokes are also related to sleep loss. In fact, you are more likely to die younger if you do not get enough sleep.

So fix your schedule to include more time for sleeping. You need it, you deserve it. You will feel and perform better if you sleep long enough. Find the perfect amount of sleep that you need and stick to your set bed times – you will feel positive effects almost instantly.