Preventive medicine, including annual wellness exams, can help ward off diseases, but that’s just one way you can help support your mental and physical wellness. Healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating nutrient-dense foods and exercising regularly can go a long way in supporting your overall health goals.
Getting enough quality sleep is also essential for your health, but unfortunately, not everyone gets the recommended amount of sleep each night. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults aim for 7-9 hours of sleep.
Unfortunately, not getting enough sleep causes more than daytime sleepiness. It can increase your risk of potentially serious conditions. Let’s take a look at the nine health risks caused by not getting enough sleep, courtesy of the team here at Macomb Medical Clinic in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
How lack of sleep affects your health
While the occasional late night can cause a headache or daytime sleepiness, a chronic lack of sleep can contribute to the following:
1. Memory issues
Sleep and memory share a complex relationship. Sleeping allows your brain time to process information and store it in your memory. Unfortunately, not sleeping enough can reduce your learning ability by 40%.
A lack of sleep can also contribute to hypertension (high blood pressure). That is especially true if your lack of sleep is related to sleep apnea.
3. Risk of heart disease
Not only does a lack of sleep increase your risk of hypertension, but it also affects your heart in other ways. During the non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep stages, your heart rate slows down, your blood pressure lowers naturally, and your breathing stabilizes. Together, these changes decrease the strain on your heart, allowing it to recover from the stress that occurs during the day. Without enough sleep, these changes don’t happen, and your heart doesn’t recover from daily stress.
A lack of sleep can increase your risk of heart attack and irregular heartbeats too.
4. Weakened immunity
Just like how your heart repairs and recovers during sleep, so does your immune system. Without enough sleep, your body has a more difficult time fighting off invading germs, and you’re more likely to get sick.
5. Weight gain
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body is more likely to snack as a way to find energy. That can lead to unintentional weight gain.
Weight gain can happen in other ways too. When you’re chronically sleep deprived, you’re more likely to have higher ghrelin levels, which makes you feel hungrier.
6. Low libido
A lack of sleep 一 and the fatigue associated with it 一 can contribute to decreased sex drive. Men may also see a dip in testosterone if they skip sleep too often.
7. Mood changes
Your quality of sleep and your mood are connected, and if you’ve felt rejuvenated mentally after a nap, then you’ve experienced this connection. Without enough sleep, your mood can quickly suffer with increased irritability and mood swings.
8. Skin changes
Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to:
- Puffy eyes
- Dark circles under your eyes
- Decreased collagen
- Lackluster skin
- Fine lines
Skin serums can’t undo the damage caused by lack of sleep.
9. Increased feelings of depression and anxiety
Finally, not getting enough sleep affects your mental wellness. It can increase feelings of depression and anxiety, exacerbate any conditions you already have, and impair judgment.
How we can help
As primary care providers, our team is here to help you improve all aspects of your health, from your sleep to your weight to your heart health. We can help you improve your sleep quality by recommending specific sleep hygiene practices to help you get a good night’s rest. We can also help you manage chronic conditions, such as hypertension.
To schedule your annual wellness exam or to learn more about the health effects of not getting enough sleep, schedule a consultation with the team at Macomb Medical Clinic.