It’s not just adults who are impacted by sleep deprivation. New Zealand children are second only to America for this problem, blamed in part on the increased popularity of electronic devices like tablets and gaming consoles. Staring at an electronic screen suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleepiness. Screen time before bed is particularly bad for this reason. Insufficient sleep is strongly correlated to lower academic achievement in children, along with the same ill-effects to mood and behaviour that are observed in adults.
For adolescents, changes in biological sleep patterns make it hard for teens to go to sleep earlier in the evening. 10 – 11pm is a reasonable time for a teenager to turn in for the night, in keeping with their internal sleep settings. As adolescence is a time of growth and development, teens need more sleep than adults; about 8 – 10 hours is best. A large proportion of teens do not get enough sleep due to staying up late, then getting up early for school. As with adults, lack of sleep can affect learning, memory and concentration, which can impact on academic performance. It can also affect mood, at a time when hormonal changes are already inclined to produce unwelcome fluctuations in this area.
In short, if you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll end up fat, sick and stupid.
Diabetes, Obesity, Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder, High Blood Pressure, Heart Attack, Stroke
Thinking, learning, reasoning, problem solving and memory are impaired by sleep deprivation. Attention and concentration are also reduced.
Sleep deprivation was a factor in numerous large-scale industrial disasters, including the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown. Sleep deprived workers are far more likely to have accidents on the job.
Heightened impulsiveness coupled with impaired thinking are key dangers identified by neuroscientists. All-night meetings before important decisions, a frequent occurrence in some business and political settings, are potentially a very bad idea.
Decreased libido is a common side effect of sleep deprivation, linked to decreased energy, lower levels of sex hormones and low mood.
Lack of sleep promotes higher levels of ghrelin, the hormone which stimulates appetite. Sleep deprived people are more likely to crave carbohydrates and sugary foods.
Lack of patience, irritability and a short attention span are not endearing personal qualities. Sleep deprivation will produce all three.
Lack of empathy and a reduced ability to interact with others are by products of extreme tiredness.
Chronic lack of energy and concentration can seriously compromise a person’s ability to participate in social and recreational activities, making life a fun-free zone.
Dark circles under the eyes, fine lines, reduction in skin elasticity and internal aging of vital organs are all linked to lack of sleep.
Sleep is a time when your body clears itself of toxins. If you don’t get enough sleep, you can wake up feeling almost hung over, due to toxin build up.