Negative Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Negative Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Negative Effects of Sleep Deprivation, Sleep Deprivation


Negative Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Staying up late can be very tempting when you have a lot to do, and you’re short on time. After all, it seems everyone does it on occasion. However, studies show that sleeping less than 6 or 7 hours a night for extended periods of time can cause serious harm to the body. Research has linked sleep deprivation to some serious health conditions, including cancer. Let’s take a brief look at some of the negative effects of sleep deprivation.


One of the most obvious dangers associated with sleep deprivation is the effect it can have on someone who is driving a motor vehicle or handling machinery. A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania showed that participants who slept only 4 to 6 hours over a two-week period exhibited cognitive deficiencies similar to those who had not slept for three days. To top it off, most of them were unaware of how impaired they were. According to the National Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 100,000 automobile crashes each year are the direct result of fatigue.

Weight Gain

Another negative effect of sleep deprivation involves obesity. In a study involving nearly 10,000 participants, Columbia University discovered a link between sleep deprivation and a higher BMI (body mass index). Their findings showed that those who slept less than 4 hours every night were 73 percent more likely to have a higher BMI. Additionally, those who slept 5 or 6 hours were 23 to 50 percent more likely to be obese. Researchers suspect that sleep deprivation causes a hormonal imbalance that increases the appetite while reducing the sensation of fullness.

Sleep Deprivation


Losing sleep can also increase your likelihood of developing type II diabetes. A study by the University of Chicago found that sleep deprivation can reduce the body’s insulin sensitivity and also lower its ability to regulate blood sugar levels. When the sleep patterns of healthy subjects were disturbed, their insulin sensitivity was reduced by 25 percent, and their blood sugar levels went up 23 percent.

Cardiovascular Disease

A Nurses Health Study by Harvard University uncovered a link between sleep deprivation and also heart disease. Participants who slept only 5 or 6 hours per night were at higher risk for a coronary event. Previous studies had already linked sleep loss to high blood pressure and elevated cortisol levels (a stress hormone). Additionally, researchers at Pennsylvania State University found the sleep-deprived individuals had higher levels of cytokines in their blood (proteins that regulate the body’s inflammatory response). This can trigger inflammation, damaging healthy tissue and contributing to heart disease.


One of the most serious effects of sleep deprivation is what it can do to the hormonal balance in the body. Melatonin is a hormone that is produced while a person is sleeping. Part of its role is to wipe out free radicals, which are associated with developing cancer. Losing sleep greatly reduces melatonin production, diminishing the body’s ability to fight cancer.

Although scientists remain unsure of exactly why the human body requires so much sleep. There’s more than enough evidence to show what can happen if you don’t get enough of it. Medical problems like obesity, diabetes or heart disease, could be caused by lack of restful sleep. If you have trouble sleeping but seem otherwise healthy, don’t assume that you’ll be able to avoid the negative effects of sleep deprivation indefinitely. It’s better to see a sleep specialist now than a cancer specialist later.

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