The Harmful Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Image Source: Google Images
Image Source: Google Images

Do you ever feel like your body weighs 10 times heavier than the usual?  Do you feel so angry and irritated that it disrupts your work and your social life?  There comes a time that we just want to go out, have fun partying at night, and not pay attention to our health.

For most of us, we often take for granted the importance and benefits of sleep.  In my case, I always stay up late, and play computer games, because currently, I am not enrolled in law school, I am not employed, and I feel more alive during night time. I stay up late and play video games because nobody bothers me at night, and the internet connection speed here in the Philippines is much faster at night. There is a saying that goes, “He who sleeps late has short days. ”  It means that when we stay up too late, and our sleeping time is cut short, we feel like we do not have enough time to finish our work.  When I stay up late and somebody asks me to do something,  I feel like I’m not giving 100%, and I feel like my body is going to give in.  Today, I’d like to share to you what sleep loss does to us.

1. COGNITION decreases when we lack sleep.  We use our brain all the time everyday for mental activities such as, thinking, understanding, learning, and remembering.    It is an important part of our body, and without it, we wouldn’t function at all.  We rarely take care of our brain because we think that our brain is inside, protected by our skull.  However, we need to remember that the brain needs to rest in order for it to function, and this rest that can be gained through sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning.

According to Men’s Health magazine, lack of sleep hurts our cognition in many ways.  First, it impairs attention, alertness, concentration, and problem solving.  This makes it more difficult for us to learn.  Second, during the night, various sleep cycles play a role in “consolidating” memories in the mind.  If you don’t get enough sleep, you wont be able to remember what you learned during the day.

I remember back when I was still studying, I only had three hours of sleep because I was playing computer games, and I studied for exams late in the evening.  I slept in the morning, and when I woke up, it was almost time to go to school.  I took the exam, but while answering it, I forgot what I had reviewed, and I couldn’t think straight because I was lacking sleep and the rest needed for my brain to function well.

2. SKIN AGING also occurs when we lose sleep.  Though it is a normal process or change in the body that we go through as we grow older, lack sleep accelerates this process.  Most people have experienced sallow skin and puffy eyes after a few nights of missed sleep. Chronic sleep loss can lead to fine lines and dark circles under our eyes or as we call it, “eye bags.”  According to Cosmopolitan magazine, when we don’t get enough sleep, our body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol.  When there is too much cortisol, it can break down collagen, the protein that helps keep the skin smooth and elastic.

In my case, I love staying up late, watching series, and playing games.  I always sleep at four in the morning, and when I wake up and someone sees me, they usually say that I have dark lines under my eyes, and that I look a little older, like the vendor of cigarettes.

Image Source: Google Images
Image Source: Google Images

3. WEIGHT gain is another downfall when we lost sleep.  Contrary to popular belief, we do not lose weight when we lack sleep.  Why? According to my doctor friend,  lack of sleep raises the levels of ghrelin, the hormone that tells you to eat and whose job is to boost your appetite, increase fat production, and thereby causing you to gain weight.  Lack of sleep also lowers the level of leptin, the hormone that tells you that you’re full and you should stop eating.

I remember a week ago, I slept late again, and woke up early, because it was my friend’s birthday.  He treated us to a buffet, and everyone noticed that I ate the most, so my doctor friend immediately advised me to be careful because lacking sleep and eating a lot is a dangerous combination.

When we feel like staying up late, going out with friends, and having a great night, you should remember that sleep is always important to our body as it affects our cognition, skin aging, and our weight.  Medical journals recommend eight hours of sleep, but achieving these hours can be hard for some people, especially those who love partying and going out late in the evening.  Since value health and lifestyle, we must learn to balance our activities with sleep.  I recommend that when we struggle to complete eight hours of sleep, we need to have a special place for sleeping and relaxing where there is no distraction.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christian is a student at the American Institute for English Proficiency.  He is studying to become and lawyer, and he wants to improve his English before going to law school.

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