7 Surprising Ways Lack of Sleep Makes Your Life Miserable

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America has become a sleep-deprived zombie nation. About a third of the country’s citizens don’t get enough sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Experts generally recommend that adults get at least seven hours of sleep each night. Failure to do so can not only tire you out but can also increase your risk of developing serious health conditions.

Here are some of the overlooked — and often surprising — ways sleep deprivation can make your life miserable.

1. It makes you less generous

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Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, found that during the week after daylight saving time begins — when we all lose an hour from our day — charitable giving drops by 10%.

Interestingly, the states that didn’t change their clocks saw no decline in the good work. Nor does the dip in giving occur in the fall, when things return to standard time and we all get an hour back into our days.

In summarizing the findings, Eti Ben Simon, a UC Berkeley research scientist who helped lead the study, said:

“We’re starting to see more and more studies, including this one, where the effects of sleep deprivation don’t just stop with the individual, they spread to those around us. If you don’t get enough sleep, it’s not only detrimental to your own well-being, it’s also detrimental to the well-being of your entire social circle, including strangers.

2. It makes you crave carbs

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When we don’t sleep well, it puts our endocannabinoid system out of whack. This system helps regulate several functions, from immune response to appetite.

When sleep deprivation messes with the endocannabinoid system, the result is an increased desire for high-fat, high-starch, sugary foods. As University of Chicago behavioral neuroscientist Erin Hanlon told CNN:

“When you’re sleep-deprived, you’re not like, ‘Oh, you know, I want carrots.’”

Instead, you want chips and cookies and candy, he says.

3. Increase the risk of heart disease

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When we sleep, our blood pressure drops. That is good news for the heart.

However, if you sleep for only a few hours, your blood pressure doesn’t drop for very long. Experts say it can negatively affect the cardiovascular system and can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

4. It ages your body

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That youthful glow may be another victim of sleep deprivation. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that just one night of sleep deprivation causes cells in older adults to age more rapidly.

In a summary of the research findings, Judith Carroll, assistant professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the UCLA Cousins ​​Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, said:

“Our data support the hypothesis that a single night of sleep deprivation in older adults activates important biological pathways that drive biological aging.”

5. Promotes the development of diabetes

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Type 2 diabetes causes sugar to build up in the blood and can damage blood vessels. This is a chronic condition that affects tens of millions of Americans.

Several studies have found that periods of deep sleep help the body to better control blood sugar levels, preventing type 2 diabetes.

6. Increases anxiety

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Sleep deprivation and anxiety have a relationship that is both destructive and mutually reinforcing. Anxious people have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep.

This creates sleep deprivation which, in turn, exacerbates anxiety. According to the Sleep Foundation:

“Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem in the United States, and sleep deprivation is known to have negative implications for overall health.”

7. It bogs down your brain

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Sleep deprivation impairs mental function in several ways. Possible:

  • Promotes memory lapses
  • Hampers your ability to concentrate
  • Reduce your ability to make decisions
  • Causes dramatic lapses in attention

Research by psychologist David Dinges has found that those who sleep less than eight hours each night experience significant cognitive and physiological deficits.

A summary of Dinges’ findings from the American Psychological Association concludes:

“In fact, Dinges showed that two weeks of sleep deprivation—about four hours per night—caused brain deficits as severe as those seen in people who didn’t sleep at all for three nights. As sleep deprivation persists over time, attention, memory and other cognitive functions suffer. Constantly failing to get enough sleep is the biological equivalent of consistently spending more money than you make.”

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