Sleep deprivation can have serious effects on your health in the form of physical and mental impairments. Inadequate rest impairs our ability to think, handle stress, maintain a healthy immune system and moderate our emotions. In fact, sleep is so important to our overall health that total sleep deprivation has been proven to be fatal: lab rats denied the chance to rest die within two to three weeks.
Similarly, the brain's ability to problem solve is greatly impaired. Decision-making abilities are compromised, and the brain falls into rigid thought patterns that make it difficult to generate new problem-solving ideas. Insufficient rest can also cause people to have hallucinations. Other typical effects of sleep deprivation include:
* heart disease
* slower reaction times
* slurred speech
Dramatic weight changes, especially weight gain, are also common effects of sleep deprivation. Because the amount and quality of the sleep we get affects our hormone levels, namely our levels of leptin and ghrelin, many physiological processes that depend on these hormone levels to function properly, including appetite, are affected by our sleep.
Leptin is a hormone that affects our feelings of fullness and satisfaction after a meal, and ghrelin is the hormone that stimulates our appetites. When you suffer from sleep deprivation, your body’s levels of leptin fall and ghrelin levels increase. This means that you end up feeling hungrier without really feeling satisfied by what you eat, causing you to eat more and, consequently, gain weight.