Here's What Happens to Your Body When You Don't Sleep Enough

William Shakespeare called sleep, “sore labor's bath, balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, chief nourisher in life's feast.” And really, he wasn’t far off. 

When you’re feeling tired or worn out, there’s nothing like a good night’s sleep to refresh and rejuvenate your mind and your body. But what is it about sleep that helps restore us — and why is it so critically important to make sure we get enough sleep? 

On the surface, the process of sleep seems pretty basic: Close your eyes, fall asleep, wake up — what could be simpler? Actually, sleep is far more complicated. 

Sleep affects just about every organ and every system of your body, including your immune system, your sex drive, your moods, and your ability to learn and retain information. It’s during sleep that your glands release and respond to a lot of the chemicals that keep you healthy and help your body “work” the way it’s supposed to. 

If you’re not getting enough Zs, there’s a good chance your health and well-being will suffer — even though some of the effects can take awhile to show up. At Your Service Psychiatry, PLLC wants to let you know how not getting enough sleep can affect your well-being.

You won’t be able to concentrate

Sleep helps to “reset” your brain and prepare it for a new day, so you can perform at your best. When you don’t get enough sleep, it’s much harder to focus, stay on task, solve problems, make decisions, and learn and apply new skills. 

Even a little “missed sleep” can cause a significant drop in productivity, especially if poor sleep becomes a habit.

You can get sick more easily

Your immune system is a big beneficiary of sleep. Much of your healing occurs when you sleep, and it’s also when your immune system replenishes itself so it’s ready to take on invading germs that cause colds, flu, and other maladies. 

That’s one big reason why doctors recommend sleep when you’re sick — it gives your body the energy it needs to build up immunity and fight off diseases.

Your can develop high blood pressure (and heart problems)

You need at least seven hours of sleep each night on a regular basis to avoid serious, life-threatening risks, like high blood pressure and heart disease. High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke, cardiovascular disease, and heart attack. If you routinely get less than seven hours of sleep a night, you could be putting your health at risk. 

You’re more likely to gain weight (and even develop diabetes)

Researchers think sleep helps to regulate the hormones that control hunger. When you don’t get enough sleep, it can be harder to control your appetite, which means you’re more likely to overeat. 

What’s more, studies show that when you don’t get enough sleep, your risk of Type 2 diabetes increases. Plus, lack of sleep interferes with your metabolism, making it harder to shed pounds once you’ve gained them. 

Your risk of accidents increases

Remember, sleep affects your ability to focus, to make decisions, and to solve problems — all of which can combine to increase your risk of accidents at work, on the road, and anywhere else in your life. 

The National Sleep Foundation says your car accident risk goes up significantly if you’ve had six or fewer hours of sleep, and if you have a chronic sleep problem, you’re seven times more likely to fall asleep while driving. 

Your risk of cancer can go up

That’s right — poor sleep habits can even increase your risk for certain cancers, including breast, colon, ovarian, and prostate cancers. Researchers think this link is related to disruptions in your body’s biological clock — the natural, internal timekeeping mechanism that helps to control sleep-wake cycles.

You’re more likely to suffer from depression and mood disorders

Lack of sleep makes it more difficult to deal with life’s daily stresses, and what’s worse, depression and anxiety can make it harder to get a good night’s sleep. As a result, sleep problems and depression form a self-perpetuating cycle that can be tough to break on your own. Lack of sleep can also contribute to anxiety, PTSD, and other serious mental health issues.

Improve your sleep, improve your health

If you’re having problems getting enough sleep, you’re not alone. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that at least one-third of Americans aren’t getting the sleep they need to stay healthy. 

Trouble sleeping isn’t just annoying — it can have a major impact on your physical health, your mental health, and your quality of life. Our team at At Your Service Psychiatry, PLLC helps patients get to the root of their sleep problems, so they can get the rest they need to stay healthy and happy. 

To learn how we can help you get the restful sleep you need, book your convenient, confidential telehealth appointment today.

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