Get Your ZZZs or Else! 4 Scary Facts About Sleep Deprivation

Persistent insomnia might make us feel like zombies, but the real dangers if sleeplessness might surprise you. According to the CDC, 6000 fatal crashes each year are caused by drowsy driving.

Lack of sleep can cause problems with motor skills, cognition, reaction time, and even the body’s resistance to disease. If you’re burning the midnight oil on a frequent basis, you need to know these scary facts about sleep deprivation.

Sleep Deprivation Makes You Dumb

Sleep issues can make us unfocused and harm our attention spans. On top of that, chronic sleep loss can impair our ability to absorb and understand signals from the rest of our bodies. We may fail at creating long-term memories or even be unable to learn new tasks.

One of the worst mental symptoms of poor sleep is reduced executive function. This very important aspect of our mental acuity controls our ability to adapt, use working memory, and make decisions.

Lack of sleep can alter our ability to accurately access risk, plan ahead, or process new information. Complex ideas can become difficult to understand, and our reaction times can be dampened.

Lack of Sleep Ages You

Sleep deprivation creates a rise in the production of the stress hormone called cortisol. In high quantity, cortisol weakens proteins that keep skin smooth and supple.

We also produce growth hormones when we sleep. In our childhoods, human growth hormones make sure we grow and mature. As we age, it strengthens our muscle mass, bones, and skin.

Without deep sleep, we can’t produce enough growth hormone to repair the injuries of the day. Cutting off our supply of HGH and replacing it with excess cortisol can make us older before our time.

Sleep Loss and Disease are Linked

People with insomnia often have other conditions that are compounded by lack of sleep. In fact, chronic sleeplessness increases risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

Insomnia is also closely tied to depression. Not only is insomnia a symptom of depression, but the physical and mental decline of chronic sleeplessness can worsen the feelings of depression. One study confirmed that people with insomnia are five times more likely to develop depression.

Sleep apnea sufferers are at an even higher risk of disease. Breathing problems, poor blood sugar, liver disease, and acid reflux are commonly found in those with sleep apnea. Sleep tests can help you learn more about how to test yourself for sleeping disorders.

Insomniacs Have Compromised Immune Systems

During sleep, the body’s immune system creates important substances known as cytokines. These cytokines fight off foreign bacteria and viruses. Cytokines also help sleep improve, lending energy to the immune system to defend the body better against illness.

When you don’t sleep the way your body needs to, it’s unable to create adequate forces to fend off infection. This can decrease your chance of recovering quickly from illness, too.

Don’t Fear Scary Facts About Sleep

Though sleep issues visit most people at least a few times in our lives, you shouldn’t be afraid of these scary facts about sleep.

The good news is that sleep issues are completely treatable. Reducing your screen time at night, going to bed on a schedule, and consulting your doctor about persistent sleep issues can ward off possible long-term side effects.

Looking for advice on how you can improve your nightly routine? Check out our list of five easy ways you can get better sleep.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.