Skimping on shut-eye can impact your health over the short- and long-term.
Getting a good night’s sleep is an essential part of your well-being. If you don’t sleep enough, you feel tired and irritable the next day. You may have difficulty concentrating or getting your work done. And you may spend the whole day wishing you were back in bed, snug under the covers with the lights off.
Not only can a lack of sleep ruin your day, but if you don’t get enough quality sleep on a regular basis, it can cause physical and mental health issues that go far beyond the lousy feeling you have after a poor night’s sleep. That’s why it’s important for you to make sleep a priority.
Here are 9 things that may happen to your body when you don’t get enough quality sleep:
- You can’t think. A lack of sleep can affect your ability to remember and process information. Decision-making, reasoning and problem-solving skills may also be impacted.
- You’re not as alert. Missing out on just 1 ½ hours of sleep can impact how alert you feel. Your reaction time may also be slower.
- You increase your risk of serious health issues. A number of chronic health conditions may be affected by not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. These include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart failure, coronary heart disease and some cancers. You may also be more likely to have a stroke.
- You’re at greater risk of injury. You are three times more likely to be involved in a car accident if you sleep 6 hours or less a night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Your risk of other accidents may also increase when you’re tired.
- You may gain weight. People who slept less than 5 hours a night during a 3-year study were significantly more likely to gain weight and become obese than people who slept 7 hours a night.
- It can affect your mental health. It may come as no surprise that there’s a link between depression and sleep. Over 80% of people treated for depression in the U.S. also experience difficulty sleeping, according to one study.
- You may get sick more often. Your immune system weakens when you don’t get enough sleep, making it harder to fight off illnesses.
- You may have a lower sex drive. Not sleeping enough may also make you lose your interest in other bedtime activities.
- It may affect your appearance. Not only may you be sporting dark circles under your eyes but chronic sleep deprivation may lead to premature wrinkles, uneven skin color and loose skin.
Approximately 1 in 3 American adults don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. How much sleep is enough? Adults aged 18 to 64 need 7-9 hours a day. Older adults (age 65+) need 7-8 hours daily.
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Date Last Reviewed: January 17, 2022
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD