If you’ve ever spent a night tossing and turning, you already know how you’ll feel the next day — tired, groggy, and out of sorts. Sleep deprivation can be caused by stress, depression, poor eating habits, or a condition such as sleep apnea. And while you may not think your sleeplessness has consequences, there are serious health hazards of not sleeping.
Below are five surprising health hazards of not getting enough sleep:
- Aging – We’re all familiar with the dark circles that appear under our eyes when we’re tired, but chronic sleep loss can actually increase aging of your skin. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol. In excess amounts, cortisol can break down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic. Sleep loss also causes the body to not release enough human growth hormone. As a child human growth hormone helps you grow. As an adult, it helps increase muscle mass, thicken skin and strengthen bones.
- Heart Disease – If you’re not getting enough sleep, you have more stress hormones in your body. Stress hormones damage blood vessels, which can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. If you already have high blood pressure, sleep deprivation can make it worse. The news is even worse for men – their chances of heart disease due to lack of sleep are far greater than their female counterparts.
- Obesity – when you don’t get enough sleep (even for just one night), your body’s balance of two appetite hormones is thrown out of whack. There are two appetite hormones – leptin and ghrelin. Leptin controls your appetite. When you’re overtired, your leptin levels go down. At the same time, your levels of ghrelin go up, telling your body that you’re hungry. The higher your ghrelin levels, the more you want to eat.
- Diabetes – A study published in Sleep Medicine Review found that after just one night of sleep deprivation, the body has a decreased ability to handle glucose. It’s like a vicious cycle with diabetes being linked to obesity and obesity being connected back to sleep deprivation.
- Depression – Insomnia (the most common sleep disorder) has the strongest link to depression. In another study of 10,000 people, those with insomnia were fives times more likely to develop depression than those without. Experts suggest that insomnia is often one of the first symptoms of depression. Unfortunately, the two feed off each other with sleep loss aggravating the symptoms of depression and depression making it more difficult to fall asleep. Fortunately, treating one or both usually resolves the problem.