Did you know that Filipinos rank fourth in the world in terms of sleep deprivation?
The most common culprits of sleeplessness are stress and anxiety, over-active minds, and physical ailments. But sometimes the problem is not the sleeplessness itself–it is how one deals with it. Improving sleep hygiene and adopting habits that encourage a better night’s rest can help solve this problem.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Getting less than six hours can have a negative effect on your health.
What is long-term sleep deprivation?
A lot of people assume that sleep deprivation is just a temporary thing and that if you can just catch up on your sleep for a few nights, you will be good to go. But that’s not the case.
Long-term sleep deprivation is when you don’t get enough sleep for a prolonged period of time. It can be caused by working night shifts, having an irregular schedule, or having a medical condition that prevents you from sleeping. Sleep deprivation can also be caused by lifestyle choices, such as drinking alcohol before bedtime or using caffeine in the morning.
But what most people don’t realize is that long-term sleep deprivation can lead to serious health problems over time, including:
1. Increased risk of heart disease
When you don’t get enough sleep, it can actually put you at risk for heart disease. Your body needs to rest so that your blood pressure can stay low and stable, but when you are not sleeping enough, it increases your blood pressure and makes it harder for your heart to pump blood throughout your body. This puts stress on all of your organs and increases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
2. Increased risk of stroke
Strokes are more common in people who don’t get enough sleep. This is because poor sleep increases inflammation and oxidative stress—both of which can contribute to cardiovascular disease and stroke.
If you get less than six hours of sleep per night, and your sleep is disturbed, you are at a 48% greater risk of developing or dying from heart disease and a 15% greater risk of developing or dying from a stroke.
3. Worsened cholesterol levels
You might think that getting more shut-eye would help with weight gain, but studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep tend to eat more than those who do. Our bodies need sleep in order to regulate hormones like leptin and ghrelin—hormones that tell us when we’re hungry or when we’ve had enough food. Without proper regulation of these hormones, we tend to eat more than we should at one time and then feel hungry again soon after eating.
When you are tired and hungry at the same time, it can be hard to resist cravings for unhealthy foods like candy bars or cookies that are high in sugar and fat. While they may make you feel better in the short term (because they contain caffeine), these types of snacks won’t help us feel less tired later on.
Not getting enough sleep also slows down metabolism, which means that you’ll start storing more fat than burning it off. This is why many people have trouble losing weight when they don’t get enough sleep—even if they’re eating healthy and exercising regularly.
4. Diabetes and metabolic syndrome
When you’re tired all the time, you’re more likely to eat more junk food and less healthy food. This leads to unhealthy weight gain that can lead to diabetes. Sleep deprivation also wreaks havoc on your body’s ability to process sugar, which increases the risk of developing diabetes.
In addition to diabetes, sleep deprivation can also cause metabolic syndrome—a cluster of conditions that increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. The effects of sleep deprivation on metabolism may be due in part to changes in levels of hormones, such as cortisol or insulin.
5. Memory loss
Studies have shown that those who do not get enough sleep will experience memory loss over time because their brains aren’t getting enough rest and therefore cannot function properly. As you start to sleep less and less, your brain will start to lose its ability to form memories. This can be especially problematic for students who are trying to memorize information for exams or even just trying to retain what they learn during the day at work.
You need at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep each night in order for your brain to recover from its daily activities and reset itself for new tasks the next day. Without this time, there will be no way for memories from one day to connect with memories from another day—leaving gaps where memories should be.
6. Depression and anxiety disorders
Depression and anxiety disorders are two of the most common mental health issues, and sleep deprivation is a major contributing factor. It is well known that sleep helps regulate hormones and other chemicals in your body. And when you’re tired all the time, it can be hard to feel positive about anything.
But there are also more specific things going on in your brain when you don’t get enough sleep, including a change in how much activity there is in parts of your brain associated with mood regulation. This can lead to depression or anxiety over time—which means that if you don’t get enough sleep every night, your risk for these conditions will go up even further!
The science is clear: lack of sleep is a serious health problem that can be dangerous to your overall well-being. Taken together, you can see just how sleep deprivation can negatively impact brain cells, waking mental processes, and cardiovascular issues. That’s why it is important to recognize the signs and avoid sleep deprivation whenever possible.
So, the bottom line? Let’s all take that extra hour of sleep tonight—and every night thereafter!