What does lack of sleep really do to our bodies?

Lack of sleep is something that plagues a lot of people nowadays. Many people do not realize how important getting an adequate amount of shut-eye is to the quality of their life. They’re busy taking care of other affairs in life and neglecting themselves.
Various studies have shown a close relation between enough sleep and general physical wellness. Sleep gives your body enough time to recover from the day’s activities and replenish its energy stores. This allows repair and growth of new cells, making various systems in the body work better. Below are some effects that lack of sleep has on our bodies:

Weight gain

Many studies have established that lack of sleep can lead to increased feelings of hunger and heightened appetite. When these feelings are responded to, they can easily lead to obesity. If you sleep less than six hours each night, you’re more likely to develop these symptoms. To avoid this, seven to nine hours of sleep is recommended. Research has supported this by showing the relationship between less sleep and Ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates hunger and Leptin which suppresses appetite in times of satiety. Little sleep time increases levels of Ghrelin and reduces Leptin.

Fatigue that comes with long periods of sleep deprivation eventually affects the body’s metabolism and leads to unhealthy eating habits. It will also lead to reduced physical activity.

Weak immune system

Due to the high levels of stress that result from lack of sleep, your body develops slow response to infections. Your antibodies do not react as supposed, leaving you vulnerable to frequent viruses.

Slow cognitive function

The morning after a sleepless night, you’re likely to be brain-tired. This is accompanied by symptoms such as a short temper, irritation and moodiness. Your ability to focus is also compromised, and you cannot concentrate on a task. Many people pass up sleep in order to put in more work, what they do not realize is that lack of sleep ultimately affects the quality of their work. It’s hard to stay productive when you can barely stay alert.

Low fertility

When you get less than 7 hours of sleep over long periods of time, it can affect the production of reproductive hormones, in both men and women. It leads to lower levels of testosterone and hormones that trigger ovulation, making conception hard to achieve.

Aged skin

When the body does not get enough rest time, it release high amounts of cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol breaks down collagen, the protein responsible for keeping the skin smooth and elastic. In this case, other than causing sallow skin the day after a sleepless night, chronic sleep deprivation results in wrinkles, fine lines, lackluster skin and dark circles under the eyes.


When you fail to get enough rest after a day’s activities, your fatigue will carry on to the next day. If this happens frequently, you’ll find yourself feeling less energetic most of the time, with no motivation to do anything. This affects your performance in all other aspects of your life.