The Repercussions of Not Enough Sleep

It’s a given that sleep is one of the most important needs that every person has to have. In fact, it’s one of our primary needs that is included in the physiological needs found in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Without sleep, both our body and our mind suffer. While it is fine to miss out on a few hours of sleep, it is unhealthy to go for several days without sleep or not getting enough sleep. This can lead to a lot of problems like horrible mood swings, accidents and other health problems that may surface because you don’t get enough rest. What is it about sleep deprivation and our health? What are the most common health problems associated with not getting enough sleep? Here are a few of the most prevalent health problems when it comes to sleep deprivation.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, also called as hypertension, is the abnormal rise in one’s blood pressure. This is brought upon by a number of factors like stress, caffeine intake, cigarette smoking or other factors that affect the cardiovascular system. Once you lack sleep, the blood vessels start constricting because your body doesn’t get the rest it needs. If this happens, the blood vessels get narrower and the blood flow inside grow faster and the pressure gradually builds up. This results in a high blood pressure reading. If you don’t get adequate sleep, you have an increased risk in developing cardiovascular problems associated with hypertension like coronary artery disease and myocardial infarction.

Cerebrovascular Accidents

Cerebrovascular accident or stroke is more likely to happen to those who are deprived of sleep. Also called brain attack, cerebrovascular accidents happen when there is reduced blood flow to the brain. This results in decreased oxygen supply and nutrition to the brain tissues, resulting in a myriad of signs and symptoms that can later develop into a life-threatening situation. Since the brain itself is affected, several body systems are also affected by this change. Signs and symptoms like abnormal respiratory rate, heart rate and blood pressure may be present. Weakness, headache, drowsiness and confusion are also common signs and symptoms in stroke. Not getting enough sleep also puts a strain on your blood vessels, increasing the risk of developing a stroke.

Heart Failure

Heart failure is one of the most deadly and now one of the most common conditions that lead to hospitalization and even death in people all around the world. This happens when the heart itself doesn’t receive enough oxygen through its coronary arteries. What is usually felt during this event is a crushing pain that is commonly described as “an elephant sitting on one’s chest” and often extends to the left arm. Other signs and symptoms may also include a sense of impending doom, an increased heart rate and respiratory rate, a rise in blood pressure, fatigue and nausea. And what happens when we lack sleep? The blood vessels have a tendency to constrict because of stress which usually happens when we’re deprived of sleep. Prolonged sleep deprivation can lead to life-threatening problems and heart failure is just one of them.


While emotional in nature, it can still develop from prolonged sleep deprivation. A number of studies have supported that those who don’t get enough sleep are more prone to develop depression. This comes from the disruption in the normal flow of the neurotransmitters in the brain. Once these neurotransmitters increase or decrease in amount, our mood changes and depression may be more than likely to develop.


Unhealthy Weight Loss or Weight Gain

When one experiences prolonged sleep deprivation, the body’s digestive and metabolic processes undergo a change. What happens is that the usual routine of the body is disrupted and the processing of carbohydrates, proteins and fats are disturbed. For example, the processing of cholesterol in our body usually happens at night when we’re already asleep. However, when we’re staying awake for a longer period of time, that process is disrupted and the cholesterol in our body stays instead of being processed properly. This results in unhealthy weight gain or even obesity. But there are also cases when sleep leads to weight loss since our body ends up using all the nutrients the body was supposed to store in reserve for emergencies. Since the body is using it all up for us to be energized during the time when we’re awake, we start to lose weight since the body is utilizing the reserve energy stores in the form of our adipose tissue or what we commonly refer to as fat.

Mental Impairment

Throughout the day, we use up our focus and concentration to do our work or to pay attention in school. Little by little, our brain is getting worked up and later get strained and tired at the end of the day. It declines function which warrants rest in the form of sleep. But when we lack sleep, our ability to concentrate decreases significantly because the brain is not properly rested; this results in a worsening performance in school and at work. Going about through the day while groggy and sleepy won’t allow you to produce adequate results since your body can’t keep up with the demands of your work.

Risk for Injuries

One of the major repercussions of not getting enough sleep is getting injured or getting into accidents. Drowsiness and listlessness are common signs of sleep deprivation. Once you feel these signs, your brain function decreases and you’re more prone into making mistakes at work or doing just any daily activity. For example, driving becomes a dangerous thing if you fall asleep on the wheel or even doze of for just a few seconds. There are also occupational hazards that you can incur like those working in factories can have their limbs pressed or stuck in machinery if they’re not alert; not only that, those who lack sleep are more prone to falls. May it be falling from the height of a bed or falling off a flight of stairs, it will still result into serious injuries if you’re not careful. Load more