5 Science-Backed Effects of Sleep Deprivation

According to SingHealth, almost half of Singaporeans don’t get enough sleep. A whopping 44% of us are sleep deprived, a number higher than the figures in the US (where only around 35% percent are sleep deprived). Modern-day habits, like a drive for higher productivity and the use of artificial lighting, are making us sleep less and less. While we know that sleep is important, is it really that bad to be sleep deprived? Here are a few science-backed effects of the lack of sleep, and why it’s bad for your health.

1. Lowered productivity
All around the world, many accidents are caused by a lack of sleep, from car crashes to oil spills. This is due to the fact that when we sleep, our neurons are repaired, creating better connections and solidifying memories. Without sleep, your brain doesn’t perform as well as it could, making you sluggish and prone to mistakes. You are also prone to slower reaction times, making you move more slowly and making you do less work than usual.

2. Lowered levels of cognition
When you’re sleep deprived, your brain finds it harder to process and store information. In other words, it’s harder to learn when your brain lacks sleep. And since your brain cannot solidify previously acquired memories, you would have trouble applying the things you have learned in the past, hampering your progress in learning a new skill or information.

3. Lowered immunity
For those of you who are prone to pulling all-nighters, chances are you have noticed that you get sick more often. This is because sleep deprivation impairs the immune system, the system that helps fight off bacteria that leads to colds and the flu. Sleep deprivation also affects the reaction of the body to harmful bacteria; simply put, the less sleep you have, the less effective your body is in fending coughs and colds.

4. Increased risk of diabetes
Diabetes is an illness that affects the production of insulin, which leads to high levels of glucose in the body. When sleep deprived, insulin production is also altered in the body, leading to a higher risk of diabetes, along with other diseases like heart disease and high blood pressure.

5. Lowered mental health and wellbeing
Most of us are cranky and irritable if we had a bad night’s rest. Tossing and turning during the night can turn to arguments and moodiness during the day, which can distance us from colleagues and loved ones. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation leads to mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety. This isn’t surprising, considering that sleep deprivation also leads to a brain that has a harder time on concentrating, which can lead to frustration and irritability.

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