What are the health effects of extended sleep deprivation?
1. Central nervous system
Sleep deprivation negatively affects your mental capabilities and emotional state. You may feel impatient or prone to mood swings. It can also endanger your decision-making processes and imagination. If sleep deprivation persists long enough, you could begin having hallucinations — witnessing or hearing things that aren’t actually there. A lack of sleep can also trigger mania in people suffering from bipolar disorder.
Other psychological dangers include:
• Impulsive behaviour
• Suicidal thoughts
You may also experience microsleep during your day. During these microsleeps, you will fall asleep for a few to several seconds without even realizing it. Microsleep is out of your control and might be incredibly dangerous if you are driving. It can also make you more prone to injury if you run heavy machinery at work and experience a microsleep episode.
2. Immune system
Your immune system makes protective, infection-fighting substances like antibodies and cytokines while you snooze. It uses these substances to fight foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses. Certain cytokines also help you sleep, giving your immune system more efficiency in defending your body against illness.
Sleep deprivation stops your immune system from building up its forces. If you don’t sleep enough, your body may not be able to ward off invaders, and it may even take longer for you to recover from illness. Long-term sleep deprivation also raises the risk for chronic conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes mellitus.
3. Digestive system
Besides eating too much and not exercising, sleep deprivation is another risk factor for becoming overweight. Sleep influences the levels of hormones leptin and ghrelin, which regulate feelings of hunger and fullness. Sleep deprivation can also make you feel too exhausted to exercise.
Over time, decreased physical activity can make you gain weight since you’re not burning enough calories and not creating muscle mass. Sleep deprivation also causes your body to release less insulin after eating food. Insulin helps to lower your blood sugar (glucose) level. Sleep deprivation likewise reduces the body’s tolerance for glucose and is linked with insulin resistance. These disorders can lead to diabetes mellitus and obesity.