Sleep Deprivation Can Be Deadly, Here Is What Sleeping Less Than 7 Hours Can Do To You


By Mayukh Saha / Truth Theory

Studies show that a third of US adults do not get their proper sleep. It’s not news that lack of sleep will cause terrible problems to your body. Adults are supposed to sleep about 7-9 hours every night, but yet they cut back on it. Some say it’s because of work, others claim it’s because of family. Elon Musk, when speaking to The New York Times claimed that he was facing issues about his well-being due to lack of sleep. When Arriana Huffington sent an open letter to Musk about the horrible work culture example that he is setting, he responded on Twitter that it was not ‘an option’.   Neurologists have often said that the shorter one slept, the shorter one’s life is. Let’s look at the impact of sleep deprivation.



  • Cancer


Lack of sleep has been associated with cancer risks, especially breast and colon cancers.


  1. Skin Aging

Research claims that chronic skin problems increase with deprivation of sleep. Also, studies have found that sun damage on the skin does not heal that fast when you are not sleeping well, resulting in aging of the skin.


  1. Weight gain

People who do not sleep properly have a tendency to be attracted to high-calorie foods and find it difficult to control their cravings. It can be because of hormonal imbalances and due to this, it can lead to obesity or a  high body mass index.

  1. Loneliness

It has been found that sleep deprivation can lead to loneliness getting intensified and therefore, people enter the vicious cycle of staying alone.


  1. Short-term Memory

Memory gets affected when you do not sleep properly. Delaying school can have a great effect on children as it showed an increase in their scores. Adults deprived of sleep had difficulty recalling words and found it hard to improve on skills.

  1. Long-Term Memory

In elderly people, lack of sleep can result in structural changes along with damage in long-term memory.

  1. Alzheimer’s Disease

Our brain accumulates beta-amyloid protein when we are awake. This is cleansed when we sleep. The buildup of this protein has been associated with Alzheimer’s. Sleep-deprived individuals have more beta-amyloid protein in their brains than the ones who sleep properly.

  1. Heart Disease

Lack of sleep can have a negative effect on your cardiovascular health. Blood pressure spiked among people who had been awake for about 88 hours. Elevated heart rate was detected among people who slept for just 4 hours. There has been an  increase in C-reactive protein concentration, which is a marker of heart disease.

  1. Irritability

There is a sense of irritability among people who are deprived of sleep because they feel more distressed.

  1. Hallucinations

Double vision, perceived dimness, and tunnel vision are some of the problems with sleep deprivation. Also, you can experience visual errors as well as outright hallucinations if you are struggling with your sleep.

  1. Reaction Time

Lack of sleep can impair your reaction times. There were studies done on college athletes and also on  West Point cadets who had slower reaction time and took improper decision when they were tired.

  1. Clumsiness

Lack of sleep results in clumsiness. It was found out that surgeons had a 20-32% increase in their surgical errors after lack of sleep. Plus, sports which require precision found that sportsperson who did not have adequate sleep faltered.

  1. Impaired Immune System

Lack of sleep can result in impairing your immune system. Sleep deprivation, even for  one night,  has been found capable of weakening your immune system. Vaccines can also get less effective.

  1. Cold

If you often catch the cold virus on your trips, it means you have to check your sleep timings. Lack of sleep can make you three times more vulnerable to ‘cold’ attacks.

  1. Lack of sex drive

Both men and women have testosterone which controls their libido. Lack of sleep cause libidio  reduction and sexual dysfunction as well. If you have sleep apnea, it becomes worse.

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  1. Depression

Daniel Kahneman led a classic study where he kept a log on the moods of women during their daily work routine. Differences in the income of about $60,000 had little impact but a disturbed sleep made their mood worse. Another study showed that marital happiness among women can be due to proper sleep. Now, it could be that their partners were good too, but it is probably a combination of the two.

  1. Type-2 Diabetes

Disturbed sleep can cause problems with your metabolism and this might result in insulin resistance as well as Type-2 diabetes. While studies have shown that there is a small link between the two, researchers claim that sleep can reduce risks of diabetes in adolescents.

  1. Bad Decisions

Researchers  claim that bad decisions regarding finances can happen due to improper sleep. It impairs a person’s ability to take the right ‘go’ or ‘no go’ decisions. Even the Chernobyl disaster may have been because of this.

  1. Distraction

Researchers have noted that alertness can be associated with good  sleep. Or else, you enter a state where you tend to be distracted.

  1. Tiredness In Communication

Lack of sleep can result in problems in communication. When participants were kept awake for 36 hours, they spoke in a monotonous tone, repeating things and cliches, as per one study.

  1. Sleepless Driving

Drunk driving and sleepless driving is not very different. Drivers who failed to have a good night’s sleep tend to fall asleep on the wheel, as per a review.


  1. Overproduction of Urine

When one sleeps well, urine production is slowed down. On the other hand, researchers found out that people can produce excess nocturnal urine if they do not sleep well. This is called nocturia and may cause a person to get up from bed again and again. Plus, it has been associated with  bed-wetting in children too.

23. Muscle Atrophy

Sleep deprivation causes hormonal changes which can affect muscle formation or healing. Plus, the body releases growth hormone to heal parts of your muscles. So, that’s why trainers want you to have a good night’s sleep.

  1. Pain Tolerance

People with chronic pain conditions need to sleep well as sleep is associated with pain and an increase in sensitivity to pain.

  1. Gastrointestinal problems

If you do not have proper sleep regularly, then you might end up developing gastrointestinal problems like IBS or inflammatory bowel disease.


  1. Headaches

Headaches have been associated with lack of sleep for a long time. A study found out that 36-58% of people suffering from sleep apnea wake up with an inexplicable headache.

  1. Asthma, cardiovascular problems, and arthritis

Sleep cycles help with our cell regeneration and immune system. Disturbances of sleep schedules weaken cells to fight off inflammation and cause multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions.

  1. Snoring

Snoring can actually be an indication of lack of sleep. It is a sleep disorder. If there is a problem with the airflow, then it can result in snoring. The problem will lead to heart diseases and obesity.

  1. Genetic disruption

A 2013 study shows that poor sleep might be a cause of genetic problems. People who sleep less than 6 hours have abnormal genetic activity in 700 genes. It also affects the immune system.

  1. Death

This is the major one: along with several health problems, sleep cycle disturbances, that is,  sleeping too little or too much increases your risk of dying soon.

Sleep is essential and now, studies prove it even more. So, let’s get that good night’s sleep, shall we?


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