How Can Sleep Deprivation Affect Your Body?

January 12, 2023
Effects of sleep deprivation
Insomnia Treatment
How Can Sleep Deprivation Affect Your Body?

Sleep is among the necessities required to achieve optimal performance in the human body. Sleep-deprived individuals often do not get enough sleep, which makes them feel tired. Lack of sleep also affects different body parts, from the brain to the digestive system.

Sleeping is a basic human need despite many adults overlooking the fact. A study by the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) shows about 1 in 3 adults in the US do not get adequate sleep. Anybody sleeping less than seven hours regularly exposes themselves to negative and permanent health conditions.

Read on as we answer how insomnia affects the body and what the long-term effects of sleep deprivation are.

You can have restful sleep again by following medical recommendations. Contact Mango Clinic to get personalized support.

What is Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is a condition where a person doesn’t get enough sleep. It is a broader concept and also includes those who sleep at the wrong time of day and those diagnosed with a sleep disorder. Sleep deficiency has two classifications: short-term (acute) for the day or a few days after one sleeps poorly or long-term (chronic) if they consistently get inadequate sleep.

The primary cause of sleep deprivation is a consistent lack of sleep or reduced sleep quality. Here are some notable signs of sleep deprivation:

  • Excessive sleepiness.
  • Daytime fatigue.
  • Irritability.
  • Frequent yawning.

How Can Sleep Deprivation Affect Your Body?

The adverse effects of sleep deprivation on the human body are numerous. Here are the effects of insomnia on the body’s internal systems:

Central Nervous System

Sleep is crucial to ensure the central nervous system works optimally and relays all the information. However, chronic insomnia can disrupt how the body normally sends and processes data.

The brain remembers new information learned by forming pathways between nerve cells when asleep. Not getting enough sleep leaves your brain exhausted and compromises memory. It also becomes more challenging to learn new things or concentrate due to reduced cognitive abilities.

Long-term effects of sleep deprivation

Immune System

When asleep, the body produces protective and infection-fighting substances like cytokines. The immune system uses these substances to fight foreign elements like viruses and bacteria.

Not getting enough sleep limits the immune system from making enough protective elements. Sleep-deprived individuals get sick often or take longer than usual to recover because of a weak immune system. Long-term sleep deprivation also exposes one to chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

Lack of sleep affects both mental and physical health. Start treatment today to manage the symptoms and improve your well-being.

Endocrine and Metabolic Systems

Sleep also affects the body’s hormone production as well as hormone rhythms and metabolism. For example, the body needs at least three hours of uninterrupted sleep for testosterone production. Also, sleep deprivation may lead to circadian disruption, which means cortisol and melatonin rhythms get reversed, and other outcomes occur.

In addition, many are not aware of how much sleep deprivation contributes to becoming overweight and obese. Sleep deprivation can cause dysregulation of leptin and ghrelin, the hormones responsible for the feelings of hunger, fullness, and lipid metabolism. When lacking sleep, the body reduces leptin and raises ghrelin levels, which stimulates appetite and leads to midnight snack cravings.

When it comes to gastrointestinal illnesses, lack of sleep can contribute to them too. A person with sleep deprivation has a higher risk of developing liver disorders, gastroesophageal reflux disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and others.

Cardiovascular System

Enough sleep is crucial for those with heart and blood vessel complications. It keeps these processes healthy, including those affecting blood pressure, blood sugar, and inflammation levels. Recent psychology research links insomnia to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular diseases.

Mental Health

Lack of sleep also affects an adult’s emotional state and mental abilities, making them prone to random mood swings. If it continues long enough, they may have hallucinations or mania. Insomnia effects can also include anxiety, paranoia, depression, and impulsive behavior.

What are the Treatment Options for Sleep Deprivation?

While people should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, sleep-deprived individuals can last several weeks without shutting an eye for an adequate time. Seek professional consultation from a doctor if you cannot sleep for weeks. A doctor may request a sleep study to help diagnose the condition. After a diagnosis, the doctor will prescribe medication or psychotherapy sessions.

Sleep deprivation treatment


Sleep deficiency can have severe consequences for one’s cognitive and physical health. Short-term lack of sleep effects include changes to reflexes and vital signs, while prolonged effects include dementia and cancer. Talk to your doctor if you continue having problems with sleeping or daytime fatigue.


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