When you deny yourself sleep (or sleep refuses you), this, believe me, is not good for the cause. Yes, you work long hours, but much less productively and at reduced speeds. And because of fatigue, you are not even able to adequately assess the quality of work. How lack of sleep affects all areas of life, our expert tells.
We all lose sleep sooner or later. According to medical criteria, insomnia begins when a person does not sleep three nights a week. As a result, the whole organism suffers and literally all spheres of life are affected.
It is known that during sleep the brain works much more intensively than during wakefulness. There is a direct causal relationship between the content of amyloid in brain tissues and the development of insomnia. Amyloid is a protein that forms the plaques that cause cognitive impairment and progressive dementia in Alzheimer’s disease. The worse the sleep, the higher the concentration of amyloid in the brain tissue. During sleep, a vital process occurs: the body removes excess amyloid from the brain. People at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease are more likely to complain of sleep problems, daytime sleepiness, nighttime awakenings than those who are not at risk of developing this disease.
Sleep affects metabolism. One of the consequences of this process is a violation of glucose metabolism and, as a result, excess weight. Just one night without sleep can reduce insulin sensitivity by 30%. Limiting sleep time to five hours a night, even for several days, also causes disturbances in glucose metabolism. The risk of diabetes increases if a person sleeps less than seven hours a night. Therefore, sleepy people often crave sweets: due to reduced insulin sensitivity, glucose does not enter the cells, and the body feels exhausted. It will take at least a week of healthy sleep to correct the consequences.
Lack of sleep activates the sympathetic nervous system. Its activation is necessary for the body to protect against stress, excessive mental stress, increased physical activity.
Excited, the sympathetic nervous system releases the hormone norepinephrine, which increases the pulse, cardiac output, and increases blood pressure. Rest, sleep, meditation, relaxation, and the feeling of true love are factors that activate the parasympathetic nervous system. It tidies up the pulse and returns the pressure to normal values.
If you do not sleep, then the cycles of the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems do not alternate, merge – the level of inflammatory cytokines increases, which affects the vessels. Over time, arterial hypertension develops. People who suffer from insomnia are at greater risk of coronary heart disease.
Researchers at the Michigan State University School of Medicine (USA) have proven that lack of sleep is the most important factor that negatively affects women’s desire to have sex. During sleep, the production of hormones responsible for sexuality increases. Just one extra hour of sleep increases the likelihood that a woman will want to have sex the next day by 14%.
In men, this area of life suffers even more due to chronic lack of sleep: testosterone levels and, consequently, libido decrease.
Testosterone not only stimulates the male reproductive system. The hormone increases protein synthesis in muscles, kidneys and liver, affects bone density. Therefore, the underdevelopment of the musculoskeletal system, violation of sexual behavior (decreased libido) and degradation of the functions of the reproductive system may be the result of a banal lack of sleep.
Violation of proper rest for the body is one of the key factors in reducing immunity. With insomnia, the number of T-lymphocytes involved in the recognition and neutralization of “enemies” decreases. At the same time, as we have already said, the level of cytokines responsible for inflammation increases. Even people suffering from constant sleep deprivation react hard to flu shots. The body simply does not produce enough antibodies.
Insomnia has been linked to an increased risk of depression and anxiety disorders. And according to research by Norwegian scientists, patients with chronic insomnia also have a three-fold increased risk of developing asthma: cortisol, which is also responsible for our breathing, is more active during the day. Perhaps asthma is a response to the “busyness” of the lungs at the wrong time for this.