Most of us have experienced the next-day consequences of sleep loss. Our creativity is dulled, we can't think straight, we become forgetful, clumsy and grumpy. A sleep-deprived person can experience impairments equal to that of a drunk driver. But researchers are learning that there is way more going on during chronic sleep loss besides next-day sleepiness; sleep deprivation can also put you at risk for serious health problems.
There are many reasons why we don't get enough sleep - work, school, and family being foremost. But sometimes sleepiness is the result of a sleep disorder, which fragments and sabotages a good night sleep in many different ways. Finding out the cause of your sleeplessness and implementing changes might protect you from health problems greater than daytime fatigue.
In the Wake of a Sleepless Life
While occasional sleep loss is bothersome, chronic problems can take a toll on the body. No one understands fully why the body sleeps, but there are certain functions that restore and refresh the body. Your blood pressure decreases; heart rate slows; appetite, stress and insulin hormones quiet; and blood clotting cells take a break. Keep the body awake and you are subject to weight gain, heart disease, mood disorders, decreased immunity, insulin resistance and diabetes.