The condition of not having enough sleep is referred to as sleep deprivation. It can be acute or chronic, however, the levels of sleep deprivation can vary widely. Fatigue, clumsiness, weight loss or weight gain, and daytime sleepiness, are results of a chronic sleep-restricted state. Absence of sleep over a long period of time is not frequent in humans unless caused by surgery or fatal familial insomnia. Kevin Loria, Business Insider, reflects on sleep deprivation effects on your body and brain:
“About a third of US adults don’t get enough sleep.
And sleep deprivation has serious consequences for your brain and body.
Many people think they can get by on less than seven to nine hours a night — the amount of sleep doctors recommend for most adults — or say they need to sleep less because of work or family obligations.
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That prompted Arianna Huffington to post an open letter to Musk about his sleep schedule, telling him that he was “demonstrating a wildly outdated, anti-scientific and horribly inefficient way of using human energy.”
Musk posted his response on Twitter at 2:30 a.m. ET. “I just got home from the factory,” he said. “You think this is an option. It is not.”
Musk seems to understand that working 120-hour weeks is harmful. As Matthew Walker, a neuroscientist who’s an expert on sleep, previously told Business Insider, “The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life.”
Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep, and kids have to get even more, though needs do vary from person to person. Some incredibly rare people can actually get by on a few hours of sleep per night, while others on the opposite end of the spectrum are sometimes called “long sleepers” because they need 11 hours nightly.
But regardless of your body’s clock, a lack of sleep will cause your physical and mental health to suffer.
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Poor sleep quality is strongly correlated with chronic skin problems, according to research from the University of Wisconsin. Studies have also found that when skin is damaged by the sun or other factors, it doesn’t heal as well in poor sleepers, so those people wind up showing more signs of skin aging.
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People who don’t get enough sleep have a harder time resisting high-calorie foods, more cravings for unhealthy meals, and difficulty controlling their impulses. Researchers think hormonal imbalances that result from sleep deprivation are responsible for this, since those imbalances are linked to a high body mass index and obesity.
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Researchers have found that sleep-deprived young adults are less likely to connect socially with other people, and that people who report poor sleep also tend to say they’re lonelier. To make things worse, people who feel lonely don’t tend to sleep as well, which can lead to a sort of vicious cycle.
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Sleep disruptions for elderly people can lead to structural changes in the brain associated with impaired long-term memory. Sleep-related memory deficits have been observed in the general adult population as well — as early as 1924, researchers noticed that people who slept more forgot less.
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There’s plenty of evidence that sleep deprivation has a negative effect on the heart. When researchers kept people awake for 88 hours, their blood pressure went up (no big surprise there). Even participants who were allowed to sleep for four hours a night showed an elevated heart rate when compared with those who got eight hours. Concentrations of C-reactive protein, a marker of heart disease risk, also increase in people who are fully or partially deprived of sleep.
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Drowsy driving is often compared to drunk driving: You really shouldn’t do either.
“Motor vehicle accidents related to fatigue, drowsy driving, and falling asleep at the wheel are particularly common, but often underestimated,” one review concluded.
Pilots, truck drivers, medical residents, and others required to stay awake for long periods “show an increased risk of crashes or near misses due to sleep deprivation,” it said.
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Many health problems are associated with sleep deprivation and poor sleep, but here’s the big one: People who consistently do not get seven or eight hours of sleep a night are more likely to die during a given period.
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