What Happens to Your Body When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

things that happen to your body when you dont sleep enough

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We all acknowledge the importance of sleep for our overall health, and as much as possible, we try to get the right amount of sleep. Many people understand that a person who lacks sleep is more prone to sickness and stress, amongst other health issues, but determining how to sleep more and understanding “why I can’t sleep” is often very difficult.

The CDC describes sleep problems as a “public health epidemic,“ with an estimated 50-70 million people having some kind of sleep difficulties.

30% of Americans suffer from different types of sleep disorders, many of which can be treated with a change in lifestyle.

With the pace of our lifestyle today, it has become the norm to cut down on the amount of sleep we get each night to pursue other activities. Be it work or other commitments, our sleep time is reduced to keep up with the race that is present in our life.

Most people need about 7 hours of quality sleep to be healthy, but many people struggle to get four or five hours of quality sleep each niight.

The downside to this logic is that sleep deprivation has several adverse effects on every other part of our life, and can reduce the quality of our life in general. This has a direct influence on our health and physical fitness, as many of us are too tired or too busy to stick to a regular workout routine or make healthy decisions each day.

Having the right mattress, foundation, and bedding is a good starting point, but diet, exercise, screen time, environment, and other factors can contribute to a lack of sleep as well.

Besides feeling well-rested when you get an adequate amount of sleep, there are numerous other very significant benefits of sleep for both the mind and body. Some of the reasons for sleep are obvious – but others may surprise you.

Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial because it helps in ensuring that you are as productive the next day as you want to be.

Keep reading below to learn more!

How Does Sleep Affect Your Body?

what happens when you dont sleep enough

When you are sick, the first thing most people do is head to bed. They know that rest is the most important part of getting better. However, did you realize that

If you don’t get enough sleep, you are more likely to get sick, and your health will suffer. Not sleeping could lead to cold sores, as well as several other issues. You can help your immune system do its job by making sure that you sleep for seven hours (at the minimum) each night and eat well. If you do, you will likely have more energy during the day and get sick less often.

Aside from hurting your immune system, there are many other adverse health effects of not getting enough sleep. Here are a few of the main ways that not sleeping enough can negatively affect your health:

Increased Chance of Experiencing Sleep Paralysis

When you enter REM sleep, which is a deep rest, all of your muscles freeze so that you can’t play out your dreams. Your body doesn’t want anything wrong to happen to you. However, this can sometimes cause a problem in the form of sleep paralysis.

Sleep paralysis happens when your brain exits REM sleep, but your body stays essentially frozen.

This is scary because you realize what is going on around you, but you can’t get your body to do what you want it to do. Many people panic when this situation occurs to them.

Sleep paralysis doesn’t happen often, but most people will experience it at one time or another. If you are not well rested, you have a higher likelihood of experiencing sleep paralysis. In those cases, hallucinations often play a role, too.  There are many different strategies for improving your quality of sleep and avoiding these type of issues.

For example, you could try supplements such as melatonin or zinc, or improve your sleeping space with a better mattress or memory foam pillow.

Decreased Memory

Think about what it would be like not to have any memories of your childhood or adulthood. You can’t recall people in your life, activities that you engaged in, or even what happened a few days ago.

According to a study published in Current Opinion in Neurology,

“Functional imaging studies contrasting sleep-deprived and well-rested brains provide substantial evidence that sleep is highly important for optimal cognitive function and learning.”

If you didn’t sleep, you wouldn’t be able to remember events. Sleep helps the brain to stay healthy. If you didn’t sleep, you would have trouble learning new things, making decisions and even retaining memories. In particular, REM sleep is vital for storing memories.

It helps the brain organize them so that you can recall them long after they have happened. Therefore, you need to allow yourself plenty of time to sleep every night.

Increased Chance of Obesity

Research indicates that people that are not well rested have a higher likelihood of gaining weight and even becoming obese.

According to a study published in Sleep Medicine Reviews,

“Laboratory and epidemiological studies suggest that sleep loss may play a role in the increased prevalence of diabetes and/or obesity. Current data suggest the relationship between sleep restriction, weight gain and diabetes risk may involve at least three pathways: (1) alterations in glucose metabolism; (2) upregulation of appetite; and (3) decreased energy expenditure.”

In particular, those that do not get at least six hours of sleep every night struggle. Researchers hypothesize that this is because the hormone leptin, which tells the body that it is full, is present in lower numbers in people that are sleep deprived.

Also, there is more of the hormone ghrelin, which tells the body it is hungry. Therefore, when you don’t get enough sleep, you want to eat more, and you don’t feel full after you eat.

This causes problems for your weight. If you know you are not sleeping well, and you see your weight start to creep up on the scales, make a few changes. You owe it to yourself to be as healthy as possible, and getting a good night’s rest is crucial to that process.

Looking Older

When you are tired, your skin shows it. Typically, red, puffy eyes show up first.

If you continue to skip out on sleep, you also get wrinkles, dark circles, and lines. For your body to stay healthy and strong, it needs the human growth hormone that it made a lot of during your childhood.

Sleep allows your body time to heal. Therefore, get plenty of rest so that your skin benefits as a result.

Overly Vivid Dreams

Many people ask questions like “What do dreams mean.” Well, if you’re having overly vivid dreams each night, it could mean that you’re not getting enough sleep. When you’re overtired from not sleeping well for several nights in a row, it is like that you will have more vivid and unique dreams.

How Getting Enough Sleep Improves Your Health

Many people know how important it is to get enough sleep each night, however, you might not be fully aware of all the benefits.

Here are a few of the ways that getting enough sleep effects your health:

Better Memory

The way the brain handles memory is affected by the amount of sleep a person gets.

According to a study published in Learning Memory,

“We show that declarative memory is enhanced when sleep follows within a few hours of learning, independent of time of day, and with equal amounts of interference during retention intervals. Sleep deprivation has a detrimental effect on memory, which was significant after a night of recovery sleep. Thus, fatigue accumulating during wake intervals could be ruled out as a confound.”

People who get a good night’s sleep have a better ability to recollect quite the events of the day clearly.

You’ll also be able to remember things more consistently and be able to more fully utilize your skills when you get the right amount of rest. When learning something new – whether physical or mental – practice helps you learn up to a point. During sleep, you actually continue to “practice” those skills you repeated over and over while awake.

This strengthens your memory for that skill, and helps you learn it better. For students cramming for tests, getting some shut-eye and being well-rested will help with memorizing material for test day.

Sleep and Fitness

The fitness gurus have it right; if you don’t sleep well, you won’t build muscle.

There is a significant connection between sleep and athletic performance, and the same goes for anyone trying to improve their health by exercising.

Having an adequate amount of sleep helps your body build muscle and increase your metabolism through healing the damaged tissue and cells that were torn apart during your workout session.

Along with that, getting enough sleep is one of the best ways to increase growth hormone naturally.

Furthermore, there are additional benefits that sleep has on your fitness that don’t directly involve exercising.

Most people give up their fitness routines within their first 20 days of regular exercising, largely because their motivation for keeping up a good lifestyle vanishes when they can’t adopt a healthy sleeping pattern. When you don’t get enough sleep, it’s almost impossible to stay motivated to stick to a strict exercise routine.

Lack of time and tiredness are the main excuses for not getting enough exercise.

Some people try to reduce their hours of sleep to make room for a workout, but this is not a long-term solution.

If you get enough quality sleep each night, you’ll be able to make a schedule for exercising and stick to it!

Weight Loss

Ghrelin is a hormone used to stimulate appetite, and leptin is a hormone used to suppress hunger. When you don’t get enough sleep, these hormones are found to increase and decrease, respectively, thus affecting eating habits. As you can see, Irregular eating habits of a person will have a direct consequence on their weight levels. Eating issues such as Night Eating Syndrome can be developed due to sleep issues. However, getting into healthy sleep patterns (as discussed on the Sleep Advisor) can have a positive impact on Night Eating Syndrome and other health issues caused by a lack of sleep.

According to a study published in PLOS Medicine,

“Participants with short sleep had reduced leptin and elevated ghrelin. These differences in leptin and ghrelin are likely to increase appetite, possibly explaining the increased BMI observed with short sleep duration. In Western societies, where chronic sleep restriction is common and food is widely available, changes in appetite regulatory hormones with sleep curtailment may contribute to obesity.”

If you increase the amount of quality sleep hours you get each night, you can even effectively lose weight overnight!


Want to live longer? Get an adequate amount of sleep.

Studies have linked both too little and too much sleep to a shorter lifespan. According to a study published in Sleep,

“The analysis indicates that mortality rates from ischemic heart disease, cancer, stroke, and all causes combined were lowest for individuals sleeping 7 or 8 h per night. Men sleeping 6 h or less or 9 h or more had 1.7 times the total age-adjusted death rate of men sleeping 7 or 8 h per night. The comparable relative risk for women was 1.6.”

Poor sleep has a domino effect on other areas of your life and can result in you taking on unhealthy habits, such as making up for it with too much caffeine. Unsure of the right amount of sleep for your age or others in your household?

The National Sleep Foundation has a chart that will help.

Also, there have been many studies which pinpoint the fact that our body functions better when it is well rested. It is has been found that even a small reduction in the sleep timings like that of an hour can make us prone to any disease out there.

A better immune system is crucial to surviving as there are many pathogens out there carrying a multitude of diseases.

To protect ourselves and make sure that our immune system functions at its best, we need to maintain our sleep timings as well as our sleep cycle.

Better Mental Health

One of the most common effects of sleep deprivation can be seen in the way our brain functions. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry,

“Mental health status of subjects whose sleep duration was less than 7 hours, and those who slept 9 hours or more, was poorer than that of subjects who slept for 7 hours or more but less than 9 hours.”

There are numerous mental health issues which are negatively impacted by a lack of quality sleep, and nearly all mental health issues are positively imapcted by a proper sleep routine and consistently getting enough sleep. If you are dealing with mental health issues such as anxiety, one immediate way you can positively affect your issues is by getting an adequate amount of sleep each night.

Healthy Skin

You may be astonished to find that inadequate rest can lead to chronic skin problems.

A study published in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology found that “good sleepers” recovered better after ultraviolet light exposure, which all of us get daily from being outdoors. In the study, participants found that their skin recovered more quickly, and they showed fewer signs of aging.

For those of you fighting the battle each day – getting your eight hours is one of the best ways to combat aging!

More Articulate Speech

Having a good night’s sleep makes you more alert and better able to concentrate on what you say.

If you want to be able to verbalize and adequately express your thoughts – be it with a friend, at work or in a public speaking engagement – quality sleep will help. Lack of sleep can cause you to stutter and even slur your speech.

According to a study in Interspeech,

“The analysis results show that Sleep Deprived Speech (SDS) has less variation of pitch and harmonic pattern than Normal
Speech (NS). In addition, we achieve the relatively high accuracy for classification of Normal Speech (NS) and Sleep Deprived Speech (SDS) using proposed spectral coefficients.”

Reduced Headaches

It’s very common to have a throbbing headache the next day after a night of poor quality sleep.

Medical conditions, such as sleep apnea that may disrupt sleep, can also lead to nocturnal or morning headaches. Studies have shown that people who consistently do not get enough sleep are more likely to have migraines.

Bottom line: there is a link between lack of sleep and headaches, and if the lack of sleep becomes a chronic condition, so can your headaches. Make getting a good night’s sleep a priority and keep those headaches at bay.

Greater Productivity and Creativity

Nowadays, it is highly likely that you work at a job and even more likely that it requires you to use your brain to its fullest capabilities, and even professionals and students are subjected to this even more. For all sorts of academic or professional performance, your brain is the supremely important appliance and polishing its functions is all sleep’s domain, thereby giving you enhanced results.

The relationship between sleep and next-day productivity is somewhat obvious. Sleeping well is directly linked to your brain, performing its tasks well. A good night’s sleep can be the perfect kick starter to any work that has to be taken care of during the rest of the day. Good sleep can result in a fresher mind, which can concentrate better and thus produce better results.

The more tired you are, the tougher it will be to focus and complete the tasks of your day…whether at work or at home. Researchers say that ”high attention tasks” are particularly challenging when you’ve had sleep loss.

People have got to realize that staying up to finish any kind of work is pointless, as the reduced productivity results in a longer time to complete the same amount of work.

It would make more sense to sleep for longer and take lesser time to finish the work to be done.

The same might be harmed if you do not get the required sleep. The positive effects sleep induces on your brain are increased concentration, a boost in imaginative thinking, and increasing both left and right brain functions.

Creativity may not be something you usually think of as being impacted by sleep. However, studies suggest that it is. When you sleep, you consolidate memories, making them stronger, and your brain seems to reorganize and restructure them.

The result the next day is greater creativity. Who knew?

If you are convinced, hurry over to Foam Nights and find the comfiest fit for a best night’s sleep!

Wards Off Lethal Diseases of The Heart and Circulation

If an important mental health enemy of the 21st century is depression, then heart and circulatory system diseases like cardiac arrests and high blood pressure form the bane of the physical body.

And guess what can help you keep them at arm’s length?

Yep, you guessed it right. Sleep to the rescue again.

A majority of the population suffers from some heart-related disease or diabetes, which are indeed a result of our lifestyle. Sleep deprivation is another important factor which can contribute to and aggravate such a scenario.

Increased pressure on the pumping system with continued sleep deprivation is one reason for increased chances of a stroke.

Further, poor sleeping habits have caused the fluctuation of the hormone insulin, which is essential for blood sugar regulation and thus increases vulnerability to Type-2 diabetes.

It has been shown in physiological academies and clinics around the world how the amount of sleep obtained is inversely proportional to how much of a risk you are at for succumbing to these diseases.

Sleep Gives You a Higher EQ

EQ or your Emotional Intelligence Quotient is as vital to your daily life, and functioning as your IQ is and probably even worth a bit more now. Your EQ is what helps you perceive and live a life richer with pleasant emotions.

And like all the brain functions sleep is connected to and improves, this is no exception.

Concluding Thoughts – What Happens to Your Body When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

If you want a strong, healthy, and aesthetic body, you need to get enough sleep each night. Regardless of whether or not you compete in sports or fitness competitions, getting enough sleep each night is necessary for proper quality of life.


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