What Happens If You Have Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep deprivation is a fairly common problem. A recent Harvard study found that statistically, only 4 out of 10 people get enough sleep every day. Sleep deprivation affects performance, mood and skin quality, and increases the risk of weight gain. And all this already happens with a sleep deficit of 2-3 hours. But what happens to the body if you stay awake all day? Let’s get to the bottom of it.

Anyone who sleeps less than the norm (7-9 hours for an adult, depending on the level of fatigue and the body’s individual circadian rhythms) knows what a broken state they have to deal with the next day. Weakness, loss of concentration, impaired memory and a depressed state. If you deprive yourself of sleep for a whole day, the consequences are already more serious.

Your sleep patterns are directly linked to the production of stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. The less you sleep, the higher the concentration of these hormones in your blood. As a result, the body plunges into a state of constant stress, trying to protect itself as much as possible and saving energy. The brain goes into a state of ‘local sleep’ and simply shuts down some of the neurons to conserve energy for longer, and the body can barely function properly.

Cortisol and adrenaline aren’t the only hormones whose concentrations rise. The hunger hormone ghrelin is secreted with a triple increase in your sleep-deprivation, which can lead to a significant increase in your chances of overeating. Statistics show that after a sleepless night, an average of 385 kcal more is consumed than after a normal night’s sleep. In an attempt to ‘recharge’ at least from food, the brain will crave high-calorie foods rich in simple carbohydrates, as this is the quickest way to get a burst of energy. 

The seriousness of the consequences of sleep deprivation should not be underestimated: a sleepless night has an effect on the body similar to alcohol intoxication. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the lack of sleep during the day is comparable to the consumption of 30-60 ml of pure ethanol (this is about half a litre of wine). Therefore, experts strongly recommend taking care to establish a proper sleep regime, because the effect of lack of sleep can be not only unpleasant, but also dangerous to your health.