Special Report

The Damage You Do to Your Body When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep

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11. High blood pressure

Changes to the endocrine system as a result of lack of sleep lead to higher levels of cortisol, also called the “stress hormone,” which increases the heart rate, Shukla noted. “This leads to high blood pressure, which forces the heart to work harder to pump blood to the rest of the body.”

Blood pressure generally declines when we sleep. The 24-hour average blood pressure of people who struggle with sleep deprivation may therefore be higher, resulting in calcification, or hardening of the tissue. Even one night of inadequate sleep in people already suffering from hypertension can cause elevated blood pressure throughout the following day, research has shown.

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12. Insulin resistance

Lack of sleep has a clear impact on the endocrine system by altering glucose intolerance, according to Shukla. Research suggests that circadian misalignment, which includes inappropriately timed sleep and wake, causes significant insulin resistance, which results in increased blood sugar levels. A study has found that even partial sleep loss during just one night triggers insulin resistance in healthy people.

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13. Diabetes

People don’t think of lack of sleep as being a significant risk factor for diabetes, but it is, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Data suggest a link between short sleep duration and type 2 diabetes. Sleep deprivation can lead to less insulin, which controls blood sugar, to be released by the liver after a meal, and more cortisol, which further hinders insulin’s job. The combination leads to high blood sugar levels, increasing the risk for diabetes, Shukla explained.

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14. Reduced ability to fight infections

Loss of sleep leads to a weak immune system, increasing susceptibility to infections and slowing recovery. This is because during sleep the immune system releases protective proteins that help fight infection. Lack of sleep can mean fewer such disease-fighting antibodies.

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15. More stress

Who hasn’t felt short-tempered after a night of just a few hours of sleep? But the consequences are a lot more serious than just a bad mood. Poor or insufficient sleep can cause irritability and stress. Quality sleep prevents a stress chain reaction of adrenaline and other hormones from being released, causing a person to feel under constant stress.