How Lack Of Sleep Can Be Dangerous?

Sleep is one of the most important components to maintaining good health. It is an essential process that is required on a daily basis for all humans regardless of age and sex. In today’s busy life, lack of sleep is a growing trend as many people give up some sleep to catch up other things. Adequate sleep is a central part of the healthy lifestyle and persistently getting less than seven hours of sleep per night is associated with various health problems. The amount of sleep each individual need depends on various factors and age, infants generally require 16 hours sleep a day, while teenagers need 9 hours of sleep a day and for adults, 8-hour sleep is the best amount of sleep. It is highly believed that sleep plays an important role in learning and memory and this is because there are a number of different sleep stages and memory stages and there are a number of ways through which sleep can interact and influence different aspects of memory. Sleep deprivation leads to impairments in cognitive and motor performances to such an extent that its effects on the system are comparable to the effects of excessive alcohol on the cognitive function. In addition to maintaining normal brain function, sleep plays an important role in maintaining the normal functioning of various other organs. Numerous studies have made it clear that sleep deprivation is dangerous as sleep loss affects various brain functions in both adults and children and it is highly linked to cognitive behavioral and physical problems.

1. Cardiovascular system

In the United States, cardiovascular disease is one of the leading cause of mortality and numerous studies suggest that sleep is an important factor in cardiovascular function. Sleep deprivation or the lack of sleep can alter molecular processes that activate cellular immune and induces inflammatory cytokine. Insufficient sleep alters the autonomic nervous system function which in turn affects blood pressure and increases the risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Short sleep duration is also associated with a greater risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke.  

2. Obesity

We all are aware that obesity has become one of the most important public health concern but, it is known to very few that the duration of sleep is highly associated with the risk of being obese. The increasing trend in obesity is due to multiple behavioral, environmental, social and genetic factors and lack of sleep is one factor that greatly contributes towards developing high body mass index. There are different mechanisms that explain the relationship between sleep deprivation and obesity. One mechanism by which sleep deprivation leads to obesity is calorie intake. People who sleep less are more likely to have an increased caloric intake. Also, sleep deprivation develops the feeling of tiredness and this tiredness may lead to reduced physical activity. It is often believed that obesity is the result of either increased calorie intake or reduced physical activity and sleep deprivation is linked to both the mechanism that causes obesity.

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3. Immune system

Sleep loss alters the activity of various aspects of the immune system and numerous studies have uncovered the relationship between the immune system and sleep deprivation. There is a significant relationship between sleep and the immune system and an adequate restorative sleep is needed to maintain good immunity. Studies suggest that sleep contributes to the maintenance of the immune system and any disturbance with the sleep can cause a greatest immunological disturbance. It has been commonly accepted that acute and chronic sleep loss leads to an inflammation and increased defencelessness to infection or disease. Sleep deprivation affects the functionality of the immune system by altering the concentration of many leukocytes and cytokines. Also, sleep deprivation can lead to an increased cortisol level in the body and cortisol causes an anti-inflammatory response within the components of the immune system.

4. Sexual disorders

The prevalence of sexual disorders is rapidly increasing and there are various factors that lead to the development of sexual disorders and insufficient sleep is one such factor. Persistent insufficient sleep can also develop the symptoms of stress and depression. Stress and depression are one of the major cause of sexual dysfunctioning in both men and women. The symptoms of erectile dysfunction, one of the most common sexual dysfunction in men, are triggered by stress and depression. Stress decreases the level of testosterone in the body and testosterone is highly important hormone for normal sexual functioning.

Sleep not only affects the functioning of various body organs or systems but it also increases the human error related accidents. As insufficient sleep adversely affects the neurobehavioral function, it causes immense daytime sleepiness and tiredness. It increases the risk of accidents. It is important to take good sleep to maintain the normal functioning of the systems.

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