Sleep is a basic human need. A lack of sleep can make one grumpy and foggy. Unknown to some, a lack of sleep can also have serious effects on your sex life[i], memory[ii], health[iii], looks[iv], and even the ability to lose weight[v]!
A study by SingHealth reported in the Straits Times[vi] states that 4 in 10 people in Singapore lack sleep on weekdays, while 2 to 3 in 10 people are sleep deprived on weekends. This rate is higher than other developed countries including the United States.
- Sleepiness Causes Accidents and is an Economic Cost!
According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2005 Sleep in America poll, 60% of adult drivers – about 168 million people – say they have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the past year, and more than one-third have actually fallen asleep at the wheel! Four percent – approximately eleven million drivers – admit they have had an accident or near accident because they dozed off or were too tired to drive.
“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses. These figures may be the tip of the iceberg, since currently it is difficult to attribute crashes to sleepiness.”
According to Industrial Safety & Hygiene News, Researchers at Harvard Medical School in Boston surveyed more than 10,000 people in the U.S. and found that that insomnia is responsible for 274,000 workplace accidents and errors each year, adding up to $31 billion in extra costs.
“Study participants reported having insomnia said they caused accidents or made errors at work that cost at least $500, such as getting into a vehicular accident while on the job, or causing an assembly line to be shut down. While the research isn’t conclusive, and depends upon recollections, it does suggest a connection between lack of sleep and workplace errors and accidents.”
- Sleep Loss Impairs Alertness & Concentration
Sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning. It impairs one’s attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving which makes it more difficult to learn efficiently.
During the night, various sleep cycles play a role in “consolidating” memories in our mind[vii]. Without adequate sleep, you won’t be able to remember what you learned and experienced during the day.
- Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Serious Health Problems
Sleep disorders and chronic sleep loss can put you at risk for:
- Lack of Sleep Kills the Sex Drive
Sleep specialists say that men and women report lower libidos and less interest in sex when they have a lack of sleep. Depleted energy, sleepiness, and increased tension may be largely to blame.
Scientists from the University of Chicago found men who get less than five hours sleep a night for a week or longer have far lower levels of testosterone than those who get a good night’s rest.
Their study, published in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) June 2011, found that the levels of the hormone are reduced dramatically to levels more akin to someone 15 years older.
“Low testosterone levels are associated with reduced wellbeing and vigour, which may also occur as a consequence of sleep loss,” said Prof Eve Van Cauter, who led the study. “As research progresses, low sleep duration and poor sleep quality are increasingly recognised as endocrine disrupters.”
- Treating Insomnia Can Avert Depression
In a recent study, researchers found that mental health problems, including psychotic episodes could be attributed to a lack of sleep[viii]. The study revealed that people who have undertaken a course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) designed to treat insomnia not only had their sleep improve but also experienced reduced paranoia, fewer hallucinations as well as improvements in depression and anxiety.
Insomnia in the CBT group fell by half after 10 weeks into the study and anxiety and depression dropped by a fifth. Paranoia and hallucinations fell by 25% and 30% respectively.
“The dominant view is that sleep problems are either a symptom of several mental health problems or is a secondary consequence, “ said Professor Danial Freeman from the University of Oxford and co-author of the research. “Sleep is really one of the contributing causes.”
Insomnia and depression feed on each other. Sleep loss often aggravates the symptoms of depression, and depression can make it more difficult to fall asleep. On the positive side, treating sleep problems can help depression and its symptoms, and vice versa.
- Lack of Sleep Ages Your Skin[ix]
Most of us experience puffy eyes and sallow skin after missing a few nights of rest however it seems that chronic sleep loss can lead to more severe skin conditions like lackluster skin, fine lines, and dark circles under the eyes.
Without enough sleep, our body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol. In excess amounts, cortisol can break down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic.
Sleep loss also causes the body to release too little human growth hormone. When young, human growth hormone promotes growth, as we age, it helps increase muscle mass, thicken skin, and strengthen bones.
“It’s during deep sleep — what we call slow-wave sleep — that growth hormone is released,” says sleep expert Phil Gehrman, PhD. “It seems to be part of normal tissue repair — patching the wear and tear of the day.”
- Poor Quality of Sleep Makes Elderly Forgetful
Trying to keep your memory sharp? Try getting plenty of sleep.
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley discovered that poor quality sleep among the elderly can cause significant memory loss and brain deterioration. The study is the first of its kind to confirm the link between poor sleep and memory loss.
The study showed that during sleep important brain waves are produced which play a vital role in storing memories. The brain waves transfer memories from a part of the brain called the hippocampus to the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain where long term memories are stored.
“Poor quality sleep in adults causes memories to stay stuck in the hippocampus and not reach the prefrontal cortex. This results in forgetfulness and difficulty remembering names.”
According to UC Berkeley sleep researcher Matthew Walker, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience[x]:
“What we have discovered is a dysfunctional pathway that helps explain the relationship between brain deterioration, sleep disruption and memory loss as we get older and with that, a potentially new treatment avenue.”
“When we are young, we have deep sleep that helps the brain store and retain new facts and information,” Walker said. “But as we get older, the quality of our sleep deteriorates and prevents those memories from being saved by the brain at night.”
- Losing Sleep Can Make You Gain Weight
When it comes to body weight, it seems if you snooze, you lose.
Research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that women who are sleep deprived are a third more likely to gain 33 pounds over the next 16 years than those who receive seven hours of sleep per night[xi].
Sleep deprivation it seems is related to an increase in hunger and appetite, and possibly to obesity. According to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, dieters were put on different sleep schedules. “When their bodies received adequate rest, half of the weight they lost was from fat. However when they cut back on sleep, the amount of fat lost was cut in half—even though they were on the same diet. What’s more, they felt significantly hungrier, were less satisfied after meals, and lacked energy to exercise. Overall, those on a sleep-deprived diet experienced a 55 percent reduction in fat loss compared to their well-rested counterparts.”
Written By Johanna Toh
Disclaimer: This article contains information and opinion of third-parties. NU3FY is not liable for any information disseminated.
[i] Gonzalez-Castañeda, R. E., et al. (2016). Sex-related effects of sleep deprivation on depressive- and anxiety-like behaviors in mice. Experimental Animals, 65(1), 97–107. http://doi.org/10.1538/expanim.15-0054
[ii] Alhola, P., & Polo-Kantola, P. (2007). Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 3(5), 553–567.
[iii] Ming, X., Koransky, R., Kang, V., Buchman, S., Sarris, C. E., & Wagner, G. C. (2011). Sleep Insufficiency, Sleep Health Problems and Performance in High School Students. Clinical Medicine Insights. Circulatory, Respiratory and Pulmonary Medicine, 5, 71–79. http://doi.org/10.4137/CCRPM.S7955
[iv] Sundelin, T., Lekander, M., Kecklund, G., Van Someren, E. J. W., Olsson, A., & Axelsson, J. (2013). Cues of Fatigue: Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Facial Appearance. Sleep, 36(9), 1355–1360. http://doi.org/10.5665/sleep.2964
[v] Nedeltcheva, A. V., Kilkus, J. M., Imperial, J., Schoeller, D. A., & Penev, P. D. (2010). Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity. Annals of Internal Medicine, 153(7), 435–441. http://doi.org/10.1059/0003-4819-153-7-201010050-00006
[vi] Ng, W.Y. (2017). Singaporeans Clocking Not Enough Sleep, Study Finds. Singapore: The Straits Times
[vii] Wamsley, E. J., & Stickgold, R. (2011). Memory, Sleep and Dreaming: Experiencing Consolidation. Sleep Medicine Clinics, 6(1), 97–108.
[viii] Freeman, D., et al. (2011). The effects of improving sleep on mental health (OASIS): a randomised controlled trial with mediation analysis. The Lancet: Psychiatry, 4(10), 749-758.
[x] Anwar Y. (2013). Poor sleep in old age prevents the brain from storing memories. The Berkeley News: Mind & Body, Research, Science & Environment. Accessed on: 3rd October 2017.
Industrial Safety & Hygiene News (2012). Lack of sleep linked to 274,000 workplace accidents a year. Accessed on 3rd October 2017. Link: http://www.ishn.com/articles/94247-lack-of-sleep-linked-to-274000-workplace-accidents-a-year
National Sleep Foundation (2005). Facts and Stats. Accessed on 3rd October 2017. Link: http://drowsydriving.org/about/facts-and-stats/
Hough, A. (2011). Lack of sleep ‘kills a man’s sex drive’, study concludes. The Telegraph: Health News. Accessed 3rd October 2017. Link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/8555899/Lack-of-sleep-kills-a-mans-sex-drive-study-concludes.html
Nordqvist, J. (2013). Poor Sleep Causes Memory Loss and Forgetful. Medical News Today. Accessed 3rd October 2017. Link: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/255511.php
Bornstein, A. (2017). Why Sleep is the No. 1 Most Improtant Thing for a Better Body. Shape: Mind and Body. Meredith Corporation. Accessed 3rd October 2017. Link: http://www.shape.com/lifestyle/mind-and-body/why-sleep-no-1-most-important-thing-better-body