The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Body, Mind and Spirit

Updated: Sep 26

Did you know that the way you feel can be linked to how much sleep you’re getting? If your answer is no, then this article is for you! Sleep deprivation has been shown to negatively affect both body and mind. Read on to find out more about the effects of sleep deprivation on the body, mind and spirit.




With so much going on in our lives, it’s easy to let our sleep suffer. After all, many of us spend long hours at work or school each day and then come home with chores and other responsibilities that require our time and attention. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to get back into a healthy rhythm again. The following activities will help increase your natural amount of restorative sleep.



Basics of Sleep Deprivation


Sleep deprivation refers to not having enough sleep. The average adult needs around 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, but sleep deprivation can occur with as few as 5 hours of sleep per night. Sleep deprivation will negatively affect your mood, cognition (problem-solving, attention, and decision-making), and your immune system. Sleep deprivation can also affect your lifestyle. For example, you might drink more caffeine or smoke cigarettes more often to stay awake during lengthy work shifts or while studying for exams. While these habits may ease the symptoms of sleep deprivation in the short term, they can cause problems in the long run. Sleep deprivation will negatively affect your health and quality of life. You may gain weight, have a lower libido, have higher blood pressure, and become more sensitive to pain. If you have chronic sleep deprivation, then you may develop a disease like chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia.


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A Darker Mood, a Foggy Brain and Achy Limbs


One of the first signs that you need more sleep is a change in your mood. Sleep deprivation can darken your mood, and make you irritable and anxious. You may find yourself snapping at others and having trouble controlling your emotions. If you’re sleep deprived, you may also find it harder to concentrate. You may find yourself making more mistakes at work and taking longer to finish tasks. You may also notice that it takes you longer to read and process new information. This can be dangerous if you work in a profession that requires quick thinking and action, such as a healthcare provider or pilot. Sleep deprivation can also lead to muscle aches and pains. Getting plenty of sleep will help your body repair itself, but if you don’t get enough sleep, your muscles can become more sensitive and prone to injury and aches.


You’ll Start to Feel Tired All the Time


If you’re chronically sleep deprived, you may find your energy levels plummeting and your mood getting even darker. You may start to feel tired all the time, even when you’ve had enough sleep, and feel like you need more and more coffee to stay awake. This is a sign that your body is trying to tell you something: you need more sleep! When you’re sleep deprived, you may also notice that you have a harder time regulating your emotions and responding appropriately to stressful situations. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to changes in hormone levels — particularly melatonin and cortisol, which are important for regulating your biological rhythms.



Sleep Deprivation Makes It Harder to Concentrate


When you’re sleep deprived, it can become harder to concentrate, meaning that it may take you longer to finish tasks and solve problems. These changes in cognition have been linked to changes in brain activity, including reduced activity in regions of the brain responsible for attention and executive functioning (problem-solving and decision-making). Many researchers believe that the changes in cognition caused by sleep deprivation are due to the brain needing to draw on energy reserves normally used for thinking, which means less energy is available for other tasks. This theory is supported by evidence showing that sleep deprivation affects people differently depending on their age, hormones, and the tasks they are performing.



Loss of Muscle Tissue and Strength


If you’re chronically sleep deprived, you may also find that your muscles become more brittle and prone to injury. This is because sleep deprivation causes your body to produce higher levels of cortisol, a hormone that helps us cope with stress by conserving energy and storing muscle tissue. This hormone also causes you to lose water and electrolytes, which are important for regulating your muscles. When you’re sleep deprived, you may also find that it becomes harder to exercise. This is because the part of your brain responsible for regulating your energy levels and fatigue has been shown to be affected by sleep deprivation, making it harder to push yourself.


Conclusion


When you don't get enough sleep, it can have an impact on your health and your mood. From darkening your mood to slowing your thinking, sleep deprivation can make you feel bad even when you're trying to do your best. By getting more sleep, you can reduce your risk for negative effects and feel better when you're awake. Now that you know more about the effects of sleep deprivation on the body, mind, and spirit, you can take action to get the sleep you need. It’s important to remember that everyone’s sleep needs are different, so it’s important to pay attention to your body and how much sleep you’re getting.




Author Credit: The Air Station Healthcare Professionals & Customer Service Team

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