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RISKS OF SLEEP DEPRIVATION
Not getting enough sleep makes you cranky, lethargic and unproductive. Your quality of life is negatively affected every time you’re sleep deprived, but there are bigger problems to worry about than your mood—sleep deprivation has some serious health risks.
Injury or Death Caused by Accidents
The reduced alertness you suffer as a result of sleep deprivation increases your risk of injury. Studies show that the risk of workplace injuries increases twofold when sleep deprivation is thrown into the mix.
Driving while drowsy is risky behavior that can result in serious injury or death. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there are an estimated 100,000 automobile crashes caused by sleep deprived drivers every year. These crashes result in 71,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths.
High Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Disease
During a normal sleep cycle, your body regulates stress hormones, but people who don’t get sufficient sleep aren’t able to regulate those hormones as well. People who get less than 5 hours of sleep per night have an increased risk of high blood pressure, most likely due to increased stress. High blood pressure contributes to as many as 7 million deaths per year, worldwide. The likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke is increased with high blood pressure.
A 2007 study in Great Britain showed that people who reduced their sleep time from 7 hours to less than 5 hours doubled their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
Not getting enough sleep can make you fat. A recent study showed that those who got less than 6 hours of sleep had a 30% higher risk of obesity. Sleep deprivation may make you less likely to exercise. Your body’s regulation of appetite-control hormones is also disrupted when you don’t get enough sleep, which can cause you to overeat.
Obesity is a huge contributing factor to developing cardiovascular disease, certain kinds of cancer and diabetes.
If you’re trying to lose weight, sleep deprivation can keep you from being successful; you’re more likely to eat additional calories late at night, less likely to engage in physical activity and more apt to swing by a fast-food restaurant when you’re too tired.
People who don’t get enough sleep are at an increased risk for clinical depression. One study showed that those who were sleep deprived were five times as likely to develop depression as those who were well-rested. Lack of sleep and depression are conditions that affect each other, creating a vicious cycle: depression makes it difficult to sleep, and not sleeping intensifies the symptoms of depression.
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