Is it possible to live and function comfortably or at all, with little or no sleep? The current world record for the longest time without sleep is 264 hours, that’s 11 days, held by Randy Gardner who was 17 years old at the time. He wanted to prove “that bad things didn’t happen if you went without sleep”. Well, he was wrong. By the time he had broken the record he had experienced dizziness, blurred vision, forgetfulness, exhaustion, he even began hallucinating. He found it impossible to concentrate on the simplest of tasks and became irritable. Now imagine trying to function daily with all of these symptoms, going to work, looking after a family, using heavy machinery, these tasks alone can be stressful on a good day. Lack of sleep can have severe effects on your mental and physical health. These are some (not all) of the negative effects of lack of sleep:
We all know what it’s like trying to concentrate when all you can think about is sleep. Those heavy eyelids just don’t want to stay open. Sleep plays an important role in thinking and learning. When you are tired it’s very hard to stay alert and focused on simple daily tasks, it impairs attention, concentration, alertness, etc., and makes it difficult for the brain to take in new information. The brain converts anything new learned during the day into memories when we sleep. If not enough sleep is achieved, then anything learned throughout the day will not be stored as knowledge in the long term.
Serious health problems
Sleep loss can be a contributing factor to heart disease such as high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, heart failure heart attacks etc. Not only this, but it also effects your mental health, and be a contributing factor to issues including depression and anxiety. Lack of sleep lowers your stress threshold, making people more irritable, and more inclined to become stressed and anxious.
When activities such as driving are affected by lack of sleep, it becomes dangerous. Driver fatigue causes 1 in 5 road deaths in Ireland, due to lower concentration and impaired responses. Over 4,000 people die each year across Europe in driver fatigue accidents. Sleep deprivation was a factor in some of the world’s most disastrous accidents – including the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl in 1986.
Affects our appearance
Lack of sleep can also affect our appearance. Puffy skin under the eyes, pale skin, bloodshot eyes, these can appear after just one night of missed sleep. Constant sleepless nights can make these become a permanent thing. Chronic fatigue and stress can affect skin elasticity and cause wrinkles and dark circles under the eyes. When stress levels increase due to fatigue, breakouts are more likely to increase on the skin of the face.
When the body has a regular sleep/wake schedule, a regular hunger schedule is also maintained along with this. When our sleep cycle is disrupted and the body does not get enough sleep, hormones that promote hunger are produced while appetite-suppressing hormones are not produced. This means there is a higher chance of overeating to occur, which can lead to weight gain and even obesity. Research has found, people who sleep for an average of six hours per night are 27% more likely to be overweight than those who sleep more. Those who sleep for less than 5 hours per night are 73% more likely to be overweight.
Keep reading about what side effects lack of sleep has here.
A good night’s sleep on a comfortable, high quality mattress and bed will help ensure that you never experience any of these common side effects. For more expert information on sleep, check out our previous blog posts and stay tuned for more!