Many people regularly don't sleep enough, even though getting enough sleep is important for our daily performance and a healthy everyday life. But what really happens if we consistently don't sleep enough? You can find out here how sleep deprivation can affect our bodies and what persistent lack of sleep means for our health.
Table of contents
- Far too little sleep
- What does lack of sleep mean?
- Consequences of too little sleep
- Effects on the psyche
- Effects on the body
- Noise & Sounds
- Overview of the consequences of lack of sleep
- Prevent lack of sleep
1. Far too little sleep
More and more people are sleeping too little and neglecting nighttime sleep in favor of professional or social obligations. Experts generally recommend that adults have a regular sleep duration of approx. 7 – 8 hours. The results of a sleep study by the Techniker Krankenkasse show that this amount of sleep is rarely achieved these days. One in two Germans regularly sleeps less than six hours a day. And this despite the fact that sufficient and restful sleep is of great importance, especially in increasingly stressful everyday life.
2. What does lack of sleep mean?
Sleep is the central recovery period for our body and should therefore never be too short. Numerous repair and recovery processes take place during sleep. The immune system is running at full speed, we process experiences and information and also gather new energy for the next day. Night after night we go through several sleep cycles, which are in turn divided into different sleep phases. You can read about exactly what happens during sleep here. Nights that are too short or frequent interruptions in sleep can disrupt the natural flow of our sleep and the regeneration processes that occur during it. In order for us to wake up refreshed in the morning and be able to cope with our everyday lives in a healthy and productive manner, regular sleep duration is of great importance. The good news: Short-term lack of sleep can be compensated for and the lack of sleep can be made up for. However, anyone who permanently shortens their sleep and does not meet their individual sleep needs not only endangers their daily well-being in the long term, but also damages their own health.
3. Consequences of too little sleep
Lack of sleep prevents the body and mind from regenerating adequately. There are numerous negative consequences, especially in the long term.
Effects on the psyche
Decreased brain and memory performance
During sleep, our brain processes the day's experiences and transfers relevant information into long-term memory. Even an acute lack of sleep leads to a reduction in these so-called neurocognitive functions, which means that the brain reacts less well to external stimuli, memory deteriorates and the ability to pay attention while awake is weakened.
Decreasing stress resistance & mood swings
Lack of sleep promotes the release of the “stress hormone” cortisol, so that our brain is put under additional strain and general stress resistance is reduced. We feel increasingly stressed, are more irritable, suffer from mood swings and find it difficult to relax.
Effects on the body
Disturbed metabolism and hormonal balance
When there is insufficient sleep, the metabolic processes that are crucial for nighttime regeneration become confused. The renewal and development of new cells in muscles, skin and other tissues are disrupted by negatively affecting the release of important growth hormones. In addition, the energy stores in the muscles and brain cannot be completely replenished. Blood sugar levels are also negatively affected by a persistent lack of sleep, thereby increasing the risk of obesity or diabetes.
Weakening of the immune system
During sleep, the number of natural defense cells in the body increases, harmful substances are removed and the body's cells are repaired and renewed. Studies show that even a single sleep deficit of three hours impairs the function of immune cells. Anyone who doesn't sleep enough weakens the development of a strong immune system and is more susceptible to infections and illnesses.
Increased risk of cardiovascular diseases
Even a slight, regular sleep deficit of one to two hours per night puts the body in a state of stress. Cortisol levels rise, putting our body on alert, increasing heart rate and blood pressure. This puts additional strain on the cardiovascular system and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke in the long term.
Overview of the consequences of lack of sleep
Reduction in cognitive performance and ability to concentrate
Decreased memory performance
Mood swings & irritability
Decreased physical performance
Weakened immune system
Increased risk of illness, e.g. b for diabetes, cardiovascular diseases
4. Prevent lack of sleep
Because we can easily compensate for a small sleep deficit and catch up on sleep, one or two short nights are usually not a problem. A regular lack of sleep, on the other hand, means that the body repeatedly cannot regenerate itself sufficiently. Little by little we lose our performance, affect our well-being and damage our health.
Various reasons can lead to us neglecting our sleep and not being able to meet our individual need for sleep. In order to cope with your everyday life without any problems and to maintain your health and performance, you should try not to permanently go without sleep for professional or social reasons. You can find out how you can improve your sleep in the long term in this article.
Attention: If sleep disorders or health problems are the reason for a permanent sleep deficit, you should definitely seek advice from a doctor.
Every second German regularly doesn't sleep enough - and the trend is rising.
Lack of sleep impairs physical and mental performance and is harmful to health and well-being.
Too little sleep weakens the immune system and increases susceptibility to illnesses, infections, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
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