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4 Long-term Health Hazards of Skimping on Sleep

drowsy driver yawns at the wheel holding coffee after skimping on sleep

Most of us don't intend to skimp on sleepm— nor do we necessarily want to do so. If asked, we'll freely admit that we look forward to going to sleep at night and that one of our favorite feelings is waking up well-rested after a full night of uninterrupted sleep. 

So why does sleep skimping happen so often?

Why are so many of us guilty?

We want to acknowledge right off the bat that plenty of factors affecting your sleep are entirely beyond your control. The baby gets sick; a late-night plumbing emergency keeps you up 'till all hours; a crisis sends your anxiety skyrocketing. Your hormones are suddenly out of whack. You get moved to the night shift. All these things and more can mean you miss the rest you need. Such events, however, don't generally occur on an ongoing basis.

While even a single night of sleep can throw you off your game, we plan to focus in this post on the more long-term effects of skimping on sleep.

When you go for days, weeks, and months without proper rest, what happens?

Spoiler alert: Nothing good.

4 Long-term Health Hazards of Skimping on Sleep

Disrupted Brain Functions

Studies focusing on how the brain is affected by lack of sleep have uncovered strong links between decreased sleep times and disrupted brain functions. That isn't merely a matter of people's thought processes feeling foggy because they feel tired. Long-term sleep deprivation will cause your brain to malfunction

Researchers found a "molecular anatomical signature" of sleep deprivation that involves many regions in the forebrain, including the neocortex, amygdala, and hippocampus. Together, these regions mediate cognitive, emotional, and memory functions that are impaired by sleep deprivation. 

Cognitive, emotional, and memory functions. Oh, just those three? No problem. 

Said nobody.

These are primary brain functions, and if they're not operating at full capacity, neither are you. 

Because our brain controls everything about us (from our physical life to our mental, spiritual, and emotional responses), we absolutely must give our minds all the sleep necessary to thrive. 

Don't skimp on sleep.

Tendency Toward Microsleep

The term microsleep is perhaps a misnomer. While it does refer to a minuscule amount of sleep, the sort of "rest" you experience is so fleeting that you would hardly count it as sleep. Lasting anywhere from a few heartbeats up to 10-15 consecutive seconds, these bursts of microsleep are your body's desperate attempt to gain what it craves. While microsleep doesn't sound hazardous in and of itself, the timing of these events can make all the difference. If you nod off during a quiet moment in a dark movie theatre, that's one thing. If you do so behind the wheel of your car, that's another. 

According to the CDC, drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths as recently as 2013. These numbers are bad enough, but they're believed to be an underestimate. Perhaps up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers.

Even one fatality due to microsleep would be too many; 6,000 is heartbreaking.

The risk isn't worth it.

Get your rest. 

Higher BMI

We're the last ones on the planet to suggest that everyone needs to look like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. (We certainly don't mind that some people do, but that's beside the point.) However, we need to talk about the link between sleep deprivation and total Body Mass Index (BMI). 

One study done on adults in the UK determined "short-sleeping UK adults are more likely to have obesity, a disease with many comorbidities." The term "comorbidities" refers to an additional health condition directly connected to the primary one. For example, in the case of the adults in this study, ones with higher BMI due to sleep deprivation were more likely to develop metabolic syndromes such as dyslipidemia, hyperglycemia, and hypertension as well as Type 2 Diabetes. 

Again, this isn't really about weight. It's about sleep.

If your sleep schedule (or lack thereof) is sending you down a path toward increased risks of serious illnesses, it's time to step back and reconsider. You can choose a path that leads toward more consistent rest. 

Greater Risk of Death

It's not too dramatic to state that if you routinely skimp on sleep, you will die. We're not just acknowledging our shared mortality here. It's more severe than that. The amount of sleep you get is inversely proportional to your risk of death. 

The less sleep, the higher the mortality rate. 

"Unequivocal evidence" of a direct link between sleeping less than six hours a night and an early death was found by scientists analysing data from 16 studies involving more than 1.5 million participants.

Those who got less than six hours sleep a night were 12 percent more likely to die over a period of 25 years compared to those who slept for the recommended six to eight hours a night. (Nursing Times)

If those numbers look familiar, and if the results of these studies startle you, perhaps it's time to make some changes.

Though, as we mentioned in the opening of this post, rare situations beyond your control will cause you to miss a few precious hours of sleep from time to time, you were not designed to run on a longterm rest deficit. 

We Can Help

Though we here at Nest Bedding can't redesign your entire schedule to make space for sufficient rest, we can help you find a mattress that will ensure any time you spend in bed will be comfortable and conducive to a good night's sleep. 

We carry high-quality mattresses at the most affordable prices. 

If you have questions about our premium products, or if you would like to chat about anything else, please feel free to contact us at any time. You can also stop by any of our showrooms at your convenience. Our staff is friendly, knowledgable, and non-pushy. 

We look forward to serving you!

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