Special Report

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

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16. Brain fog

Cognitive skills are significantly affected by the quality of sleep people are getting, according to Tal. “It’s not just about quantity.” Insufficient sleep dampens brain activity by interfering with the cells’ ability to communicate with each other, leaving you less able to concentrate on even simple tasks.

Alerting, orienting and executive control are all affected by lack of sleep, according to another study. It showed slower reaction time, leading to a decrease in vigilance among participants.

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17. Increased risk of Alzheimer’s

“We are beginning to get more information on sleep disorders and their connection to memory loss and dementia,” Shukla said. Studies have shown sleep disorders may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s later in life. It is also common for Alzheimer’s patients to experience sleep problems

Losing just one night of sleep increases beta amyloid levels, according to the National Institutes of Health. This protein is linked to declines in memory and thinking, which increase the risk of dementia. It is a metabolic waste found in the fluid between brain cells that gets flushed out during sleep.

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18. Heart disease

Sleep is essential for cardiovascular health, according to Shukla. “Sleep apnea is a great example of how sleep duration and sleep disorders can decrease life expectancy by five to 10 years because of heart problems.” The frequent stops in breathing, which lead to lower oxygen levels in the blood, increase blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system.

Research examining the relationship between coronary heart disease and sleep has found that women who slept less than eight hours, or more than nine, were more likely to develop coronary heart disease. And this is a problem not just for adults. According to the National Sleep Foundation, studies suggest that even teenagers who do not get enough quality sleep are at higher risk of heart disease because they have higher cholesterol, blood pressure, and BMIs, as well as more abdominal fat.

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19. Stroke

Chronic lack of sleep and disrupted sleep patterns have been tied to increased risk of a range of heart conditions, including stroke. One study found sleep deprivation could increase the chance of dying of a stroke by 15%.

Long-duration sleep, or more than nine hours, was also associated with a higher chance of developing or dying of stroke.

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20. Cancer

There is evidence indicating that insufficient sleep increases the risk of breast and prostate cancers. This may be due to the disruption in the circadian rhythm because the body’s internal clock has such a large effect on biological functions, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

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