What are the side effects of sleep deprivation?

Not getting enough shut-eye every night can mean far more than just feeling a bit dozy the next day. It can have real and long-lasting effects on both your physical and mental health, and on your quality of life.

It is recommended that adults get a minimum of 7 hours good quality sleep every night and this is for very good reason. A lack of sleep has both short and long term negative effects including a general feeling of sleepiness, a lack of alertness and even impaired memory. It can also make you feel moody, leading to relationship problems and conflict with others. You may also be too tired to exercise or take part in normal daily activities, leading to sluggishness and weight gain. Worryingly, a lack of sleep could make you more accident prone, especially when driving, which in itself could have disastrous consequences.

The long term effects of sleep deprivation are also many and varied, and they could be serious. These can include heart attacks, high blood pressure, heart failure, diabetes or strokes. Other potential issues could include depression, anxiety, obesity and reduced sex drive. Indeed, chronic lack of sleep can even affect your appearance, leading to wrinkles and dark circles under your eyes. Research has also suggested a link between lack of sleep and an increase in the level of the stress hormone cortisol in your body. Cortisol is what breaks down collagen, the protein that keeps skin looking youthful and smooth. So a lack of sleep can age you too!

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