What happens to your body during sleep deprivation?

2nd December 2016

Slumber Centre

We all know that feeling of grogginess when you’ve not had your recommended 8 hours sleep; your eyelids are heavy and every little task feels like a massive chore. We may be familiar with these feelings, but do we really know what happens to our brain when we’ve not had enough sleep? Sleep deprivation has more serious consequences that lie beyond the yawning and the dark circles underneath your eyes – it impairs various cognitive functions and behaviour, including attention, cognitive speed, memory and decision making. Symptoms can start after 16 hours without sleep, and get worse as time goes on.

After one night of sleep deprivation...

You will become generally clumsier in your movements and drowsiness will start affecting your reaction time. This can result in activities such as driving having some dangerous consequences. Getting only 6 hours sleep or less will affect your eye-steering coordination, tripling your risk of drowsy driving-related accidents. Driving tired can be just as disastrous as drink driving so should be avoided.

You’ll be less focused and more forgetful, as being exhausted can make it more difficult to learn and retain new things. Your brain begins to switch off parts that aren’t necessary for survival, and so retaining information isn’t at the top of the list. This can have negative effects for those studying or working, as you will find it hard to concentrate, and often end up not remembering what you have been learning.

Yawning Woman

Your immune system will become weaker, making you more likely to catch a cold. During sleep your immune system releases proteins which increase when you have an infection, aiding your recovery, however sleep deprivation may decrease the production of these. Do you find that you’re more emotional when you’re tired? This is down to sleep deprivation causing your emotional centres to be more than 60% reactive.

It can also affect your appearance – yes, beauty sleep is a thing. A study found that exhausted people were judged to be less approachable, with the problem getting worse over time. Additionally stress levels will reach an all-time high and your body’s hormone production will go into over drive, meaning the stress hormone cortisol is over-produced. This can also have an effect on your skin, as it breaks down the cortisol in the skin, adding bags under your eyes and fine wrinkles.

The effects of sleep deprivation are inherently negative, and no good can be gained out getting as little sleep as possible. In this day and age, the need to achieve as much as you can during your 24 hours a day may result in you getting more done during the day, but over time – the effects on your body will become more and more evident. So, for your own good, try and stay in bed that little bit longer!

Fire Woman Sleeping

Sleeping in a Harrison mattress, its likely sleep deprivation wont be a problem. Our hand-made pocket sprung mattresses are tailored to you and offer you a luxurious night’s sleep, making it hard to get out of bed! Find out more about our range of beds and mattresses here.