What happens to your body when you don’t sleep enough
You may eat healthy and exercise, but not getting enough sleep can undo these effects, which can ultimately be just as unhealthy. The effects of sleep deprivation go beyond feeling fatigued or yawning. A lack of sleep can have consequences on your physical and mental health.
According to the World Health Organisation, insufficient sleep is a global public health problem, with more than a third of adults getting less than the recommended seven to eight hours per night.
If you’re part of the sleep deprived, read on to learn what happens to your body when you don’t get enough sleep.
Your brain doesn’t work as well
When you don’t get adequate sleep – whether due to a chronic issue like sleep apnoea, lifestyle reasons like long work hours or raising young children, or bad habits like bingeing on Facebook before bed – it may take a toll on your brain’s ability to function. “MRI imaging shows lack of sleep reduces blood flow to areas of the brain that control higher-level thought processes,” says Dr Richard Shane, a behavioural sleep specialist and the founder of the Sleep Easily method. “It impairs your problem-solving abilities, slows your cognitive speed, and decreases constructive thinking skills and logical reasoning.”
You become forgetful
Another effect of sleep deprivation is an inability to retain memories. “Insufficient sleep interferes with your ability to focus and learn efficiently, which is essential for you to remember something,” Dr Shane says. “Research shows that sleep strengthens nerve connections involved in memory, and also helps consolidate new information into memories. Insufficient sleep interferes with this.” Dr Michael J. Breus, a clinical psychologist known as “The Sleep Doctor,” explains that you need enough REM (rapid eye movement) sleep in order for your brain to solidify memories. “REM sleep is where you move information from your short-term memory to your long-term memory,” he says. “When you do not get enough sleep, you miss out on REM, and this affects memory.”