Most noteworthy, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently reported that nearly a third of the country is unable to put in the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep. In addition, other sources report nearly 30% of adults sleep less than 6 hours per night. In fact, there are nights when many of us can’t sleep 8 hours. Moreover, we toss and turn and may be ultimately fall asleep. Or, many have jobs working the night shift who get abbreviated sleep during the “day”.
Regrettably, not getting sufficient sleep hurts your body in several ways. And, many of these are described below. But all is not lost. In fact, there are things you can do to help your body recover. Meanwhile, let's first become aware of the negative effects so you know the importance of taking action.
Most of all, the National Sleep Foundation’s latest recommendations on the amount of sleep we really need are as follows:
In addition, sleep times for those under 18 years of age are available from the National Sleep Foundation.
Most of all, being unable to sleep 8 hours (or the recommended amount) affects your body in the following ways:
A lower metabolic rate means calories burn slower to preserve energy. Most of all, inability to sleep 8 hours, causes your body to go into survival mode. Also, sleeplessness makes your body think you are in danger. As a result, your metabolism slows down so that you can escape the danger. In addition, the body tries to save its resources and ingest more fuel. Consequently, you gain weight.
Most noteworthy, the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is calories burned in a day by the body to function while resting. Moreover, BMR is affected by your age, gender, weight, body fat percentage, genetics, heredity, and hormones. Most of all, it is strongly related to your lean body mass: the greater the lean body mass the higher the BMR and vice versa.
Especially relevant, the thyroid regulates your BMR. Firstly, the brain’s pituitary gland produces TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). Secondly TSH stimulates the thyroid to produce hormones T3 (tri-iodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). Finally, these hormones in turn boost the metabolic rate of almost all the body's cells.
As a matter of fact, a study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) confirmed that anyone unable to sleep all night had a 20% lower metabolic rate.
Yet, another study showed that after 6 days of sleeping 4 hours nightly, the nightly rise in TSH fell by 30%. Fortunately, this drop is reversible. Once the subjects resumed their normal sleeping patterns, their TSH returned to normal. In conclusion, lack of sleep disrupts regulation of thyroid activity.
Studies have shown that if you are unable to sleep 8 hours, inflammation of tissues occur. Specifically the adipose tissues and skeletal muscle tissues exhibited disrupted metabolism. Most of all, disrupted sleep and circadian rhythms adversely affect metabolic functions regulated by adipose and skeletal muscle tissues.
However, one or more nights of recovery sleep can normalize metabolic changes at the tissue level that resulted because you couldn’t sleep 8 hours.
Most noteworthy, adipose tissue or fat is a loose connective tissue composed of adipocytes. Also, the adipose tissue is located beneath the skin (subcutaneous fat), around internal organs (visceral fat), in bone marrow (yellow bone marrow), inter-muscular, and in the breasts. And the adipose tissue’s main role is to store energy in the form of fat.
Most of all, if you can’t sleep 8 hours, molecular changes occur at the tissue level. Specifically, the adipose tissue attempts to increase its capacity to store fat which results in weight gain.
Skeletal muscle tissue exhibits disrupted metabolism in anyone who is obese.
Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that significantly raise the risk of developing diabetes mellitus, stroke, and heart disease. An increase in waistline, high serum triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and elevated fasting sugar levels when occurring together can cause metabolic syndrome.
Insufficient or fragmented sleep results in stress than in turn leads to production of hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, and ghrelin. These in turn cause an elevation of blood sugar, hypertension, and obesity. It is estimated that metabolic syndrome occurs in 34% of all Americans over 20 . And this number jumps to 50% of those over 59 years old.
A 2014 study found that of the studied population 22% suffered from metabolic syndrome. However, 48% of the studied population sleeping 6 to 7 hours suffered from metabolic syndrome. And 83% of the studied population sleeping less than 6 hours suffered from metabolic syndrome.
A 2017 study followed 1,344 adults with an average age of 49. Of this group 39.2% had at least three metabolic syndrome risk factors. People with metabolic syndrome who slept more than 6 hours were 1.49 times more likely to die of stroke in the following 16 year period. And those who slept under 6 hours where 2.1 times as likely to die of stroke. Similarly, those with metabolic syndrome who slept under 6 hours were almost twice as likely to die from any cause, compared with those without the cluster of risk factors.
Finally, a 2015 article in Chronobiology reported a gene, called translin, has been identified that links sleep deprivation with metabolic disorders. Metabolic disorders can affect sleep habits, with both fatigue and insomnia being the initial symptoms of diseases such as diabetes and hypothyroidism. Identifying this gene is important because researchers may be able to identify proteins produced by translin and create a drug to counteract its effect.
First of all, sleep is made up of Non Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) and REM sleep. Also, NREM is further made up of 3 stages: N1, N2, and N3. And N3, referred to as slow wave sleep, is considered as deep sleep when the body is the least metabolically active. In addition, REM sleep features vivid dreams and loss of muscle tone.
Furthermore NREM and REM occur in cycles that repeat every 90 to 110 minutes. For example, these stages progress cyclically as N1, N2, N3, NREM before starting again at stage N1. And each stage can last anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. Therefore, assuming a 90 minute sleep cycle, sleeping for 8 hours takes you through approximately 5 sleep cycles. Finally, the first half of the night is predominantly NREM sleep while the second is predominantly REM sleep.
First of all, slow-wave sleep is the deepest phase of Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep. And, slow wave sleep characteristics include delta waves (measured by EEG). Most noteworthy, sleepwalking can occur in slow wave sleep. And slow wave sleep is important for memory consolidation. Finally, slow-wave sleep is the most restorative to your body. Consequently, interruptions in slow-wave sleep are the most detrimental to your metabolic health.
The hormone leptin tells the brain when it’s time to eat. And when levels of leptin fall the brain gets the message which causes you to eat. Leptin evolved to prevent us from starving or overeating. Both made us less likely to survive in the natural environment.
First of all, adipocytes in white adipose tissue (also known as fat cells) produce the hormone leptin. And, its main target is the brain’s hypothalamus. Moreover, high levels of leptin tells the brain the body has enough fat stored and we don’t need to eat. On the other hand, low levels of leptin signals starvation. As a result, the body’s appetite increases.
Most noteworthy, researchers from University of Bristol reported those who consistently sleep less than 5 hours had 16% less leptin than those sleeping 8 hours. Consequently, because of the low levels of leptin, the sleep deprived starve.
Therefore, frequent episodes of inadequate sleep result in the sleep deprived accumulate more fat and gain weight.
First of all, the hormone ghrelin, found in your stomach and intestine lining, is an appetite stimulant. When levels of ghrelin increase, the brain gets the message to eat more. And, the more ghrelin you have the more you want to eat.
Most noteworthy, researchers from University of Bristol reported those who consistently sleep less than 5 hours had 15% more ghrelin than those who could sleep 8 hours. Similar results were found in another study. Namely, anyone unable to sleep all night had high levels of ghrelin. Consequently, because of the high levels of ghrelin, the sleep deprived want to eat more than necessary.Therefore, frequent episodes of inadequate sleep results in the sleep deprived accumulate more fat and gain weight.
A study by the National Institutes of Health looked at a different link between those who can’t sleep 8 hours and weight. Most noteworthy, the study found that sleep deprivation affects the body similar to activation of the endocannabinoid (eCB) system by chemicals in marijuana. And, the eCB has a significant role in the brain’s regulation of appetite and energy levels. In fact, the eCB affects the brains’ motivation and reward circuits and cause a desire for tasty foods.
Furthermore, when compared with someone sleeping 8.5 hours, those who can’t sleep that long had high eCB levels. And those levels lasted a long time. Moreover, the high eCB levels increased hunger and appetite. Because their eCB levels were the highest, the sleep deprived consumed more unhealthy snacks in between meals.
So, this suggests that high eCB levels drive hedonic or pleasurable eating. Especially relevant, when you see junk food after sleeping 8 hours, you control your natural responses and not eat it. But sleep deprivation increases your hedonic drive for certain foods. And your ability to resist junk food becomes weaker. As a result, you are more likely to binge eat mostly junk food and put on weight. Furthermore, the more days you are sleep deprived the more weight you put on.
Most of all, insulin turns the food you eat into fuel for the body. And a study in the "Annals of Internal Medicine" found that after only 4 days of sleep deprivation, insulin sensitivity decreased by 30 percent in adipocytes fat cells. Moreover, when your body becomes less sensitive, or resistant, to the insulin it is producing, you are unable to properly turn the food you are eating into fuel. As a result, lowered insulin sensitivity along with inadequate sleep results in weight gain as well as metabolic disorders like Type 2 diabetes. And four large studies of adults found a strong association between regular sleep loss and risk of developing diabetes.
Most of all, sleep deprivation causes the mitochondria in cells that digest fuel (i.e. sugar) to shut down. As a result, sugar remains in your blood causing you to have high blood sugar. And, this was discovered in a study that found anyone unable to sleep all night had high blood sugar. In addition, insufficient sleep makes your fat cells 30% less able to deal with insulin.
Also, lack of sleep negatively impacts metabolic function in another way – by altering the way your body processes glucose. In one study, subjects who slept 4 hours a night for 6 nights showed significant reductions in the ability to clear glucose from their bloodstream. So, insulin sensitivity dropped significantly in the sleep deprived.
Furthermore, studies show, the sleep deprived take up to 40% longer to properly regulate blood sugar after eating a meal high in carbs. So, over time, this places added stress on your pancreas which can lead to type 2 diabetes. In fact, a meta-analysis of 11 studies found that the risk of type 2 diabetes went up as sleep duration shortened, although the response was U-shaped. In the study, anyone sleeping too little or too much had a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
As noted previously, if you can't sleep 8 hours the body increases production of the stress hormone cortisol. As a result your blood pressure rises. Over time, high blood pressure may cause you to lose your vision, get a stroke, as well as damage your heart, arteries, and kidneys. Also researchers have found that those sleeping as low as 4 hours a night had elevated heart rate compared to those sleeping 8 hours.
In addition, inability to sleep 8 hours compromises your immune system. Sleep deprivation and even being unable to sleep one night causes your natural defenses against infection to weaken. And, a 2011 study pointed out that sleep regulated immune functions. In fact, the immune system uses the body, at rest during sleep, to foster adaptive immune responses.
Catabolic hormones contribute to muscle loss. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone that’s designed to break down tissue (including muscle tissue) and generate energy to deal with stressful situations. Research has shown that restricted sleep or complete sleep deprivation causes cortisol levels to rise by 37-45% the following evening. As a result muscle development suffers.
In addition, sleep loss makes it harder to recover from muscle damage caused by exercise and worsens conditions related to muscle atrophy.
First of all, testosterone has important study on muscle mass and strength, adiposity, bone density, vigor, and well-being. And, higher levels of testosterone encourages muscle development. But low levels of testosterone can cause loss of muscle mass. Furthermore, normal testosterone production requires REM sleep. And the majority of the daily testosterone release in men occurs at that time. As a result, inability to sleep 8 hours has a negative impact on testosterone production. In fact, a 2015 study reported that healthy men sleeping less than 5 hours suffered a 10-15% reduction in their testosterone levels. Sleep disturbances also cause an increase in the stress hormone cortisone. And high cortisone levels also causes low testosterone.
Growth hormone is an anabolic hormone that directly promotes muscle growth. So decrease in growth hormones means reduction in the muscles ability to grow. 70% of the growth hormone produced in Stage 3 sleep. Consequently the amount of growth hormone produced is directly related to how much Stage 3 sleep you get. Stage 3 sleep occurs in each sleep cycle and each sleep cycle lasts 90 minutes. As a result you go through about 5 sleep cycles when you sleep 8 hours. So for each 90 minutes that you lie awake you lose one sleep cycle. As a result your body doesn’t produce growth hormone in that missed sleep cycle. Consequently, muscle growth suffers because they miss out on the lost growth hormones.
Research shows that sleep helps the brain detoxify by removing toxic metabolic by-products that build up along with damaged or misfolded proteins. The channels of the brain's lymphatic system, called g-lymphatics, open up to drain toxic by-products. So, lack of sleep means the toxic products stay in your brain.
Moreover, a 2015 study verified that sleep helps cleanse the brain of beta-amyloid proteins that build up while you are awake. That protein is strongly associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, since sleep cleanses the brain of beta-amyloid proteins, lack of sleep means the beta-amyloid proteins remain in the brain. So there is a vicious cycle because the beta-amyloid proteins remain in the brain and they start to accumulate every time you don’t sleep well. This makes it harder to remove them in the deep sleep state.
A study by Uppsala University in Sweden reported that healthy young men sleep deprived for one night had, the following morning, increased concentrations of NSE & S-100B molecules in their blood. Moreover, these molecules are found in the brain and their concentration increases when there is brain damage, such as brain tissue loss. So, a good night’s rest is important to maintain brain health.
Most of all, the liver produces C-reactive protein (CRP) in response to inflammation. And a high level of CRP in the blood is an indicator of inflammation. Moreover, high levels of CRP occurs in conditions ranging from infection to cancer. However, a high CRP can also mean inflammation of arteries in the heart, which can mean a high risk of heart attack. Most noteworthy, researchers found that anyone either partially or fully deprived of sleep had higher concentrations of C-reactive protein.
During sleep, the body slows down its normal urine production. As a result, you don’t have to pee so much during the night.
But sleep deprivation increases blood pressure and raises blood sugar (glucose) levels. They, in turn, increase blood pressure in the kidney producing an urine production. Most of all, osmotic diuresis increases urination due to the presence of certain substances in the fluid filtered by the kidneys. These substances cause additional water to come into the urine, increasing urine production at night and causing you to use the bathroom more often.
A 2013 cross sectional study reported that men with sleep disturbances (who slept less than 7 to 8 hours) had an inverse U-shaped association with sperm concentration, total sperm count, and testis size. Men with high levels of sleep disturbances had a 29% lower adjusted sperm concentration.
A number of studies link sleeping less than 7 hours a night with a higher risk of mortality from heart disease. At the same time, sleeping longer than 9 hours a night is associated with higher mortality.Another study of 54,000 adults reported that those who sleep less than 6 hours or more than 9 hours are significantly more likely to have heart disease, diabetes or suffer a stroke.
Preliminary research seems to show that people who can't sleep 8 hours are at increased risk of developing certain kinds of cancer such as colon and breast cancer.
The following enumerates effects of sleep (or lack of) on the skin:
Researchers suspect that sleep deprivation actually causes pain or at least increase people’s sensitivity to pain. One study found that study participants who were kept awake all night had lower pain thresholds.
Lack of adequate sleep is associated with vision disturbances such as tunnel vision, double vision, and dimness. And the longer you are awake, the more severe the disturbances.
Sleep disturbances make Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) symptoms worse. Regular sleep loss also makes you more likely to develop IBD and inflammatory bowel syndrome. And patients with Crohn’s disease were twice as likely to experience a relapse when they don’t get enough sleep.
Sleep deprivation leads to headaches. For some, a sleepless night results in migraines.
People who consistently do not get 7-8 hours of sleep are at high risk of dying sooner than they would otherwise. In fact, data from 1964 showed that those who slept 7 hours had the lowest risk of mortality from all causes. On the other hand those with the shortest and longest sleep times had significantly higher mortality risks.
A 2016 emotional context from the University of Tel Aviv found that insufficient sleep greatly reduces your ability to determine what’s important and what’s not - especially within an emotional context. Also, another study found that anyone who is sleep deprived experiences negative emotional effects from disruptive events such as being interrupted while doing something.
Moreover, researchers from Tel Aviv University have shown lack of sleep increases activity in the part of the brain known as the amygdala. As a result, regulation of emotion is disturbed as well as increased anxiety.
In addition, lack of sleep hampers communication between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. Especially relevant, the prefrontal cortex is involved in emotional regulation. In addition, the prefrontal cortex handles complex tasks such as putting on the brakes on impulsiveness. Consequently, you become less thoughtful in your emotional responses as well as becoming more impulsive.
Lastly, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep occurs in four sleep cycles throughout the night. REM sleep is short in the first sleep cycle and longest in the last sleep cycle. Consequently, inadequate sleep compromises the amount of REM sleep you get. As a result, the restorative effects of REM sleep are compromised. And these restorative effects include allowing your emotional mind to return to a less-charged, more-neutral state.
Researchers from West Point military academy found that cadets who got enough sleep could make quick decisions than those that did not get enough sleep. Studies of college athletes found similar results. A recent study demonstrated that by reducing cognitive resources, sleep deprivation affected attention performance.
An August 2013 study from University of California in Berkeley, used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to observe effects of insufficient sleep.
First of all, of those who can’t sleep sufficiently or had a sleepless night, the brain’s frontal lobe showed impaired activity. Especially relevant, the brain’s frontal lobe governs executive functions such as complex judgments and decision-making. Furthermore, other researchers have found that severe sleep deprivation impairs the ability to follow established procedures for making a “go” or “no-go” decision.
On the other hand, few nights of good sleep and your brain’s executive functions return to normal.
In addition, the same August 2013 Berkeley study found increased activity in deeper brain centers that respond to rewards. As a result, the sleep deprived favored high-calorie unhealthy snacks and junk foods.
Finally, the same August 2013 Berkeley study found lack of sleep caused primal brain structures that control motivation and desire to get amplified. As a result, people, who can't sleep 8 hours, tend to be overweight or obese. On the other hand, the study found that getting enough sleep promotes healthy weight.
Sleep deprivation impairs executive functions such as cognition, memory, learning and processing. Sleep deprivation also wrecks short-term memory. In fact, one study found that significant loss of sleep, impaired the ability of adult volunteers to remember words they had been shown the day before.
Especially relevant, people tend to improve on a repetitious task . However, in another study, researchers found that this isn’t true if they are kept awake before they try it the first time — even if they sleep again before doing it again.
Sleep disruptions result in sleep related memory deficits. In fact researchers as early as 1924 noticed that those who slept more forgot less.
A 2013 study reported that poor sleep actually disrupts normal genetic activity. After one week of sleeping less than 6 hours per night, researchers found that more than 700 genes were not behaving normally, including some that govern immune and stress responses. Some genes that cycle according to a daily (circadian) pattern stopped doing so, while others that don’t normally follow a daily pattern started doing so.
Next, an Uppsala University study reported changes in DNA methylation.
First of all, tests showed DNA methylation caused tissue specific changes in the sleep deprived. Specifically, these changes regulated the turning on or off of genes in each cell.
Most of all, DNA methylation is a process by which methyl groups are added to the DNA molecule. Also, this addition modifies the function of the DNA segment. And, DNA methylation is also affected by hereditary and environmental factors like exercise, famine, etc.
Furthermore, sleep loss, changes the degree of DNA methylation in genes spread throughout the human genome.
Most of all, sleep loss causes changes in DNA methylation only in the adipose tissue. And most noteworthy, it only effects genes altered at the DNA methylation level because of obesity.
On the other hand, diet and exercise can alter DNA methylation and possibly counteract the adverse metabolic effects arising from sleep deprivation.
Furthermore, the same Uppsala University study reported the following.
First of all, acute sleep loss results in changes to clock genes that, within each tissue, regulate the tissue’s circadian rhythm. Most of all, the circadian rhythm is a 24-hour internal clock that cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. Also, the biggest dip in energy happens between 2 AM to 4 AM, and between 1 PM to 3 PM. Especially relevant, you won’t feel the dips and rises if you had enough sleep.
Most noteworthy, part of the hypothalamus controls circadian rhythms. But light and darkness impact it too. And the tissue’s circadian rhythm, of anyone who can't sleep 8 hours, is negatively impacted.