5 Things That Happen When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep

man sleeping at work

Tired man | Source: iStock

Last night was rough. For whatever reason, it was not your night to get the recommended average of 8 hours of sleep. If you’re like many Americans, you don’t hit the recommended amount more often than not. According to a Gallup poll, almost 40% of Americans get less than 7 hours of sleep a night, and an estimated 70 million Americans have a sleep disorder. If you’re consistently not getting a good night’s sleep, here are five things that might happen.

1. You take risks (economically speaking)

This is an unexpected result of a sleepless night. If you’re planning on making some changes in your life, you might want to make sure you’re well-rested first. According to a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, the researchers concluded that “a single night of sleep deprivation evoked a strategy shift during risky decision making such that healthy human volunteers moved from defending against losses to seeking increased gains.” In other words, if you’re thinking about making any moves with your money, you better hold off until you’re well rested.

2. You’ll eat more

When you’re sleep deprived, you eat more, according to a study from Columbia University. The study found that sleep-deprived subjects, when they were allowed to eat whatever they wanted, ate more than when they had a full night’s sleep, even when they stuck to their normal eating schedule. The people from the study ate approximately 300 calories more when they were sleep deprived. Not only can this lead to weight gain, but not getting enough sleep can stress the body, which triggers it to slow your metabolism and store fat.

3. You’re irritable

a tired man who needs to go to sleep

Tired man | Source: iStock

An immediate effect of not sleeping enough is being irritable and not responding appropriately. It’s more difficult to cope with emotions or respond maturely to situations. A study from the University of California Berkeley and Harvard Medical School found an association between sleep and emotional responsive or “primitive” reactions.

“It is almost as though, without sleep, the brain reverts back to a more primitive pattern of activity, becoming unable to put emotional experiences into context and produce controlled, appropriate responses,” says researcher Matthew Walker. In other words, you’re more likely to overact in situations and more likely to act on emotion.

4. Depression

When you’re having trouble sleeping, it can contribute to symptoms of depression. According to a 2005 Sleep in America poll, people who were diagnosed with anxiety or depression were more likely to sleep less than 6 hours a night. The most common sleep disorder is insomnia, which has a strong link to depression. A study found that those with insomnia were five times as likely to develop depression than those without. If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, WebMD recommends setting up an appointment to speak with your doctor.

5. Long term health issues

A chronic lack of sleep can cause some long-term health issues. A study by the European Society of Cardiology found that men with sleep disorders are more likely to suffer from heart attacks or a stroke. Insufficient sleep can also raise blood pressure and increase your risk for prediabetic conditions. Check out this very descriptive video from GQ on what happens to your body when you don’t get enough sleep.

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