It seems as if nobody is getting the sleep that they need. In fact, sleep deprivation is almost worn as a badge of honor. Those who are losing sleep are seen as dedicated go-getters who gladly sacrifice sleep to pursue a passion, work towards a goal, or care for another person. People who work hours that cannot possibly be conducive to healthy sleep patterns are viewed as loyal, hard-working employees, while those who choose to prioritize their health and well-being are treated as if they lack dedication.
One of the reasons why chronic lack of sleep is not seen as a serious problem by many is that there is a lack of education about the impacts of sleep loss on individuals and on society as a whole. If you’re interested in learning some of the lesser known impacts of sleep deprivation, keep reading it’s a real eye opener.
Increased Risk of Infection
Your body’s immune system develops strength, and most effectively fights off microorganisms while you are sleeping. If you do not get enough sleep, your immune system loses efficiency and effectiveness. The result is that you are more likely to develop infections from things such as minor cuts than you would if you were getting adequate sleep. And your body is not able to fight of viruses and bacteria that cause respiratory infections.
Proven Contributor to Heart Disease
The first indication of risk is quite simple. People who go without sleep have increased blood pressure numbers. This symptom isn’t something that comes on gradually either. It only takes a night or so without sleep, or without adequate sleep for this to become an issue. People who are sleep deprived also have an elevated level of C reactive protein, that is directly associated with heart disease.
Drowsy drivers suffer from slow reaction times, are at risk for falling asleep at the wheel, and frequently make technical errors due to their impaired thought processes. A sleep deprived driver may be as big a danger to others as a intoxicated driver who has surpassed the legal limit. Many serious accidents involving truck drivers or other commercial drivers who have driven for long periods of time without sleep have caused death and serious injuries to others.
Athletes who are sleep deprived are slower and less accurate. This can result in performance issues that impact the value of practices and cause games to be lost. Of more significance, however, is the fact that the athlete’s judgement is impaired and can result in taking risks that result in serious injury. In the office, this same lack of accuracy can cause employees to make mistakes that impact the company’s bottom line, and result in the need to spend time correcting errors.
Depression and Relationship Problems
Lack of sleep is a major contributing factor in a person’s mood, and their ability to interact with others. Couples fight significantly more often when one or both is not getting adequate sleep. For those who are already struggling with clinical depression, lack of sleep can impact the way that medication works and aggravate the condition. Even worse than depression, individuals with long-term sleep deprivation can develop temporary paranoia, hallucinations, and other serious mental health conditions.