Sleep Deprivation

20 Ways Sleep Deprivation Can Ruin Your Life

By Charlotte Latvala

Hanging out with friends; meeting a crazy work deadline; binging a whole season of “Stranger Things” – there’s always an excuse to shortchange yourself on sleep. And while a late night or two won’t wreck your life, continued sleep deprivation can take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Here’s how bad it can get:

1. Friends may start ghosting you

The less you sleep, the more likely you’ll be the one who’s irritable and complaining over your lunch date. Science bears it out—one recent study showed that sleep-deprived people have less empathy for others. Source

2. You might gain weight

Have you noticed that you eat more when you’re exhausted? The hormone leptin, which regulates appetite, drops when you’re tired. As a result, you’re more likely to reach for fatty, sugary foods for energy. Source

3. You could start hallucinating

Drugs and alcohol aren’t the only dangers to the brain. According to one recent study, long periods without sleep (24 hours or more) can bring on paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations. Source

4. You’ll probably feel miserable

Next time you think of staying up late, remember that sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture. Scientists consider healthy sleep as important to our well-being as food. When you don’t get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, you’re literally punishing yourself. Source

5. You’ll lose your spot in bed

You got caught up in “Law & Order” reruns. When you finally head to bed, you find your dog or kid stretched out comfortably in your spot, leaving you with no other option but to sleep on the sofa. Where’s the law and order in that?

6. Your memory could suffer

Lost your train of thought mid-sentence? Sleep-deprived people score lower on memory tests, research reveals. Source

7. You might make silly mistakes

Putting salt instead of sugar in your coffee; grabbing someone else’s lunch from the fridge at the office—lack of sleep puts your brain on slo-mo, making it harder to perform simple tasks. Source

8. You can get sick more often

Feeling sick and tired may not be a coincidence. Experts say shift workers—who tend to sleep less than other workers—have lowered immunity and may experience more frequent infections, colds, and flu. Source

9. You’re more likely to fall asleep behind the wheel

Experts say that sleep-deprived drivers are prone to bouts of microsleep—moments when you involuntarily nod off for up to 10 seconds at a time. That could put you at risk for losing control of your car (yeesh!). Source

10. Your attention span tanks

Can’t focus on the story your co-worker is telling you about her niece’s birthday party? Blame your lack of sleep, not your level of interest. Sleep deprivation has been tied to an inability to concentrate, solve problems, and be creative. Source

11. You and your partner might get in a fight

Sleep problems tend to seep into other areas of your life—there’s a significant link between lack of sleep and relationship issues. If arguments flare up when you’re tired, that’s another reason to make sleep a priority. Source

12. It’s harder to make decisions

You’re at the coffee shop, waffling between a latte and a cold brew. You can’t figure out why it’s SO hard to decide. A lack of shut-eye can impair your ability to make snap decisions. Source

13. You’re more accident-prone

We’re all a little clumsy, but if you’re tripping over everything, it may be because you stayed up half the night exploring your new Hulu subscription. Sleep-deprived people can suffer from poor balance and coordination and are more prone to falls and accidents. Source

14. You could flunk out of school

Pulling all-night study sessions in college is considered typical. Unfortunately, continued lack of sleep has a serious effect on the ability to learn—or earn good grades, which defeats the purpose of all-nighters. Source

15. You might drop the ball at work

Science reveals that lack of sleep is linked to decreased productivity at work. In fact, the U.S. loses an average of 1.2 million days of work each year due to employees who report insufficient sleep. Source

16. You might seem drunk

Being awake for 20 – 25 hours straight has the same effect on your brain and body as having an alcohol level of 0.10, according to one study. That’s past the limit of being legally drunk. Source

17. You may start feeling crazy

According to a recent study, 24 hours without sleep in a healthy person can lead to symptoms of severe mental illness like schizophrenia (i.e. hearing voices, being able to read thoughts, and having an altered sense of time and smell). Source

18. You could misread romantic cues

Dating is hard enough. Dating with the effects of sleep deprivation? Just. Dont. Research shows that sleep loss can make you misread someone’s interest. Source

19. Your sex drive may go MIA

When you’re sleep-deprived, testosterone levels drop, and your libido takes a hit. That’s not doing any favors for your dating life (see #18) or relationship (see #11). Source

20. You could increase your disease risk

Sleep-deprived people have higher rates of chronic illnesses, like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, research shows. Start making sleep a priority—your life depends on it. Source

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