Surprising Things That Happen to Your Body When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep


While you’re probably aware of some of the issues, like mental fog, that can arise when you don’t get enough rest, you may not be aware that your snoozing habits may impact all sorts of unexpected things—think: how well your heart pumps blood, and even your sex drive.So turn off your phone, close the shades, and hop into bed early tonight. If you don’t, here’s how not enough sleep may impact your body.

1. It can hurt your immune system.

There’s a very strong link between sleep and the immune system in general. The body repairs just about every cell in the body when it comes to sleep. It deprivation lowers the body’s ability to mount an immune response.

2. It can raise your risk of heart disease.

Sleep deprivation can also increase cholesterol levels and general inflammation throughout your body, leading to the formation of plaque in the blood vessels, Dr. Awad says. “When blood vessels start to form plaque, the heart has to work harder,” he explains.

3. It can lower your sex drive.

There are a lot of reasons for this, Dr. Winter says. “When you’re fatigued, your brain prioritizes getting sleep over other things,” he says. But Dr. Winters says other chemicals that are important for sexual performance and arousal, such as oxytocin, can be lowered.

weight gain because of not enough sleep

4. It can raise your risk of weight gain.

Research published in the journal found that people with restricted sleep had altered levels of endocannabinoids, one of the chemical signals that affect appetite, and the brain’s reward system. The researchers also discovered that when people were sleep-deprived, they ate more and unhealthier snacks between meals, at the same time that endocannabinoid levels were at their highest.

Older research has also found that women who get less sleep tend to weigh more than their better-rested counterparts, likely for the reasons above, Dr. Winter says.

5. It can increase your risk for developing diabetes.

There’s a direct correlation between lack of sleep and diabetes, Dr. Awad says. It’s due to your body’s ability to regulate insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas that controls your blood sugar, he says. “Lack of sleep reduces the production of insulin from the pancreas and decreases gluten tolerance,” Dr. Awad says. “Cells are then less effective at using insulin, and that can lead to the development of diabetes.”

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