Four Long-Term Effects Of Sleep Deprivation

Why do our bodies need sleep? There is no one answer, but a lack of sleep can leave a devastating impact on our health in the long run. It is therefore important to promptly seek a diagnosis and treatment if you have been dealing with sleep deprivation for some time. Sleep deprivation has been closely linked to hypertension, heart attacks and strokes, diabetes, obesity, lower fertility rates, higher cancer risks, and many more. 

Cardiovascular Issues

Sleep deprivation increases the risk of deadly cardiovascular diseases like strokes and heart attacks. Researchers believe that this is due to a lack of sleep disrupting the areas of the brain controlling the circulatory system or causing inflammation, which increases the likelihood of blood clot formation. The increased sympathetic nervous system activity linked with sleep deprivation has long-term effects for both adults and adolescents. Adults with sleep disturbance had higher blood pressure and were more likely to develop hypertension. In adolescents, greater instances of sleep disruption had links to increased risk of hypertension, and higher cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, and BMI.

Cancer Risks

Sleep deprivation and circadian rhythm disruption have been proven to speed up the formation of tumors and cause cancer risks. Being exposed to light at night decreases the production of melatonin, which possesses properties like DNA repair, and tumor growth inhibition. Embarking on regular night shift work may increase the risk of colorectal cancer, according to research. Furthermore, those who had serious difficulty falling and staying asleep were almost twice as likely as those without insomnia to get prostate cancer. Research also found that people with sleep problems had a higher risk of cancer than those who did not have sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, and parasomnia, all of which can lead to sleep disturbance. Patients with sleep apnea had a greater incidence of nasal cancer and prostate cancer when compared to individuals who did not have sleep disturbances.

Metabolic Issues and Diabetes Risk

There are behavioral and molecular variables that may contribute to the association between sleep disturbance and metabolic conditions like obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Sleep deprivation appears to have an impact on energy metabolism by reducing insulin sensitivity and increasing food intake, which stimulates weight growth and other weight-related problems. An increase in BMI was also substantially linked to sleep fragmentation. Shift work, which has been linked to high blood pressure and stress, is a major source of sleep disturbance. An experimental study of young adults with no underlying health conditions found that sleep disturbance resulted in lower insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance was comparable to that described for groups at high risk of type 2 diabetes. Other studies have also found that sleep deprivation reduces insulin sensitivity, raises cortisol levels, and reduces glucose effectiveness.

Decreased Fertility

Sleep disorders can lower libido and have detrimental effects on those trying to conceive — men and women alike. The same region of the brain that controls circadian rhythms also regulates reproductive hormone release. Getting less than seven hours of sleep on a regular basis might result in lower testosterone levels and the hormones that induce ovulation, making conception even more challenging. Our major stress response mechanism, the HPA axis, regulates reproductive hormones, menstruation, and follicle growth. Stress can cause uterine receptivity to decrease and/or reproductive hormones to be suppressed.