16 Things That Lack of Sleep Can Do to You, According to Science
From forgetfulness to weight gain to poor performance at work, a lack of sleep comes with a number of harmful side effects. In 2016, one-third of American adults weren't getting a sufficient amount of sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Insufficient sleep can also cause a range of issues including increased risk for diseases, learning impairment, lowered GPAs and job performance, increased anxiety, damaged skin and more. To lower your risk of these effects and improve your health, the solution is simple: sleep, for about seven hours each night.
Still not convinced? Here are 16 things a lack of sleep can do to you, according to science.
When it comes to sleep, it's important to get in a good, consistent routine. In fact, a chronic lack of sleep can result in a number of negative side effects, one being an increase in risk-seeking. A recent study, which studied the behavior of 14 men between 18 and 28 years old, found that when these men only got five hours or less of sleep for a week, they were more prone to taking risks. Eleven of the 14 men behaved significantly riskier throughout the week with less and less sleep. However, there was no sign of increased risk-seeking when a person only experienced one night of poor sleep.
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Lowers your classroom performance
Makes you more forgetful
Reduces your productivity
A lack of sleep can often leave a person feeling sluggish and even a little fuzzy-headed the next day, often resulting in lowered performance and productivity at work or in school. However, two sleepless nights might have more consequences than you'd expect. Recent research found that two consecutive nights of getting six hours or less of sleep can cause a person to feel sluggish for the following six days. Even staying up an extra hour while still getting a full night's sleep can also result in lowered performance the next day.
Causes weight gain
Changes your genes
Increases your chances of catching a cold
Makes you less social
If you're lacking on the sleep spectrum, your social life might be suffering. A recent study asked 122 people to rate the before and after pictures of 25 participants who got a normal amount of sleep and then two days of insufficient sleep. As a result, raters perceived the images of participants when they were sleep deprived as less attractive and less healthy. Not only that, but raters admitted to being less inclined to socialize with people who looked sleep deprived.
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Affects your ability to regulate your emotions
A lack of sleep also decreases a person's ability to fully regulate their emotions. One study discovered that one night of lost sleep can cause a person to respond more emotionally to stressful situations than they would if they were rested. Supporting this, another study discovered that sleep deprivation has a direct impact on a person's amygdala, which is a part of the brain responsible for detecting fear, causing anxiety and responding to emergency events. Participants were found to have trouble regulating their emotions during stressful events.
Decreases your sex drive
Increases your risk of cancer and other diseases
A report published last year found that the hormone melatonin, which a person gets from sleep, can be helpful in reducing the size of a breast cancer tumor. A lack of sleep will result in less melatonin being produced in a person's body.
Another study analyzed 823,000 men and found that men younger than 65 years old who got between three to five hours of sleep every night were 55 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer than men who got seven or more hours. Research has also found that sleep deprivation can also increase risks for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and even death.
Causes your brain to burn out
Prevents you from forgetting bad memories
Sleep helps reset the brain and can be crucial for learning. One study found that the loss of a single night's sleep blocks the brain from naturally resetting, which causes neurons to become over-connected and muddled, making it difficult for a person to absorb new information.