It’s amazing how many people try to soldier through life on only a few hours of sleep. They see their lack of sleep as a badge of honor, as if they are somehow doing better than everyone else because they have a few extra hours of work in their day.
Here’s a fun fact for you: a lack of sleep can be horrible for your health! Getting just a few hours of sleep per night is not the way to live a long, healthy life.
What kind of problems can a lack of sleep cause? Here are just a few:
- Lack of sleep can lead to an increased risk of accidents. According to the Australian government, fatigue is linked to as many as 20% of road fatalities. That doesn’t include the number of non-fatal accidents caused by tired drivers.
- Lack of sleep is linked to alcohol consumption. An article in The Times of India discussed the findings of a study that linked a lack of sleep to increased substance abuse. The teenagers with sleep issues were at a higher risk of depression.
- Lack of sleep can make you stupid. According to an article on WebMD, a lack of sleep reduces your ability to process information, think critically, focus on what you’re doing, and remember facts. People that struggle with sleep loss have a hard time learning, as well as functioning in tasks that require brain power.
How Sleep Contributes to Weight Gain
If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s in your best interest to get a good night’s sleep!
Now, it may seem like a bit of a stretch to connect sleep to weight loss, but the two are inextricably linked in a number of ways.
1. Lack of Sleep Makes You Crave The Wrong Foods
First, when you don’t get enough sleep at night, your body sends signals to your brain telling it “I need rest!” Your brain, however, often misinterprets these signals, receiving them as “I need food!” Your body translates fatigue as hunger, and your impaired judgment (caused by lack of sleep) leads you to make poor food choices. You either end up snacking on the wrong things, eating at the wrong time, or overeating.
2. Insufficient Sleep Reduces Insulin Response
Second a lack of sleep affects your metabolic rate. According to a study done at the University of Chicago, just four nights of sleep deprivation can stop your body from producing and using insulin properly. Insulin sensitivity drops by up to 30%, and your body takes longer to respond to signals that it has consumed enough food. You end up overeating, and often the foods you eat are high in sugar (as a response to your body’s craving for energy). To put it simply, sleep loss = weight gain.
3. Poor Sleep Affects Your Workouts
Finally, a lack of sleep affects the quality of your workout. A study in Brazil found that a lack of sleep reduces your body’s ability to repair damaged muscles. Sleep deprivation slows down the synthesis of protein, depriving your body of the amino acids needed to make repairs. This can lead to a greater risk of injuries, as well as longer recovery time needed between workouts. Sleep loss also reduces the amount of growth hormone produced by your body. These growth hormones are produced during slow wave sleep, but when you only sleep a few hours, your body doesn’t spend as much time in this sleep stage. Even worse, the lack of sleep floods your body with cortisol (the stress hormone), which reduces its sensitivity to the growth hormone.
All in all, a lack of sleep is your worst enemy!