What Happens When You Don't Get Enough Sleep? These 6 Things Are Bound To Bring You Down
It's no secret that being sleep-deprived can throw you off in more ways than one, but what happens when you don't get enough sleep is probably way more complicated than you even realize. I know for me, when I don't get the proper amount of rest — which happens more than I'd care to admit — no matter how many espressos or superfood smoothies I throw back, by about 4 p.m., all I want to do is army-crawl back to bed, pop on a sleep mask, and call it a week. I'm also usually pretty freakin' grumpy, and a whole lot likelier to respond to normal life things — like a late Seamless delivery or a crowded train — with the patience of a poorly behaved toddler.
Of course, I know I'm not alone in this whole not-getting-enough-sleep thing. While the National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults between the ages of 18 and 64 get between seven and nine hours of sleep, Americans actually average less than seven hours a night, which means sleep deprivation is not only common, but habitual for most people.
So if you're one to really burn the midnight oil, consider some of the everyday impacts that your lack of Zs might be having on basically everything you do. It might be enough to convince you (and me, too!) to turn out the light a few hours earlier than usual.
1. You're Probably In A Bad Mood
Short fuse? Maybe you stayed up too late, my friend.
Research shows that a bad night sleep can definitely have an impact on your mood, your stress and anxiety levels, and you might even feel more hostile toward other people.
Apparently, a sour mood after not getting enough sleep has to do with something called amygdala activity. The amygdala is a structure of the brain that is integral to experiences of negative emotions, and when you don't get enough sleep, there's a resulting disconnect between your amygdala and the part of the brain that regulates its functions.
So, basically, your ability to process negative emotions in a healthy, functional way gets all out of whack when you're sleep-deprived. I don't know about you, but I can definitely relate to that.
2. Your Sex Drive Is Likely To Take A Toll
You might be a whole lot less likely to get it on if you don't get your beauty sleep. When you're not feeling well-rested, the increase in tension combined with a lower ability to relax can have a pretty noticeable impact on your libido.
Moreover, disruptive nighttime habits (you know, like that Instagram K-hole you tend to fall into each night when you lay down) likely aren't doing you any favors in either the sleep or sex department.
3. You'll Probably Eat Way More Than You Need To
Ever notice when you're really tired, you're more likely to be constantly snacking? Well, I definitely do. Studies show that there's an increase of lipids called endocannabinoids in the bloodstream when you don't get enough sleep (this also happens when you smoke pot), and this actually makes eating more pleasurable, and produces a stronger desire to eat.
And hey, I love eating as much as the next gal, but it usually doesn't feel too great when I find myself doing it constantly, to the point where I'm so full I feel sick, you know?
4. You Aren't As Alert As Usual
Studies show that even getting just an hour and a half less sleep than you need can have an impact on your cognition. Your brain is literally not able to function as well as it usually does, your ability to focus takes a toll, and so does your ability to retain information throughout the day.
So, yes, this is definitely why all-nighters devoted to studying are actually pretty counterproductive.
5. You're A Much Worse Driver
Depriving your brain of sleep has essentially the same effect as drinking too much when it comes to being on the road. So, on a night when you've been robbed of your precious Zs, you might want to hail a cab or take a train instead of getting behind the wheel. Seriously, it's not worth the risk.
6. You're More Likely To Catch A Cold
Your parents and all your elementary school teachers weren't lying about this one. You're much more likely to get sick if you're not getting enough sleep at night, simply because your immune system is getting weaker and weaker by the damn second.
So, why are you still reading this? Go get some sleep already!