Here’s What Sleep Deprivation Really Does To Your Body [Backed By Science]

Jan 30, 2020

Dr. Ben Connolly

Dr. Ben Connolly


Sleep deprivation occurs when you fail to get enough quality sleep over a period of days. Sure, we all have our nights where we wake up or are woken up and can’t get back to sleep. However, we usually make up for this lack of sleep the following evening by going to bed a bit earlier or sleeping in if we’re lucky. However, often times we do not have this luxury, especially if shit work is a necessary part of your life. Sleep deprivation symptoms are most commonly seen in children and young adults, however, even as adults symptoms can be seen.

The major symptom seen with sleep loss is decreased cognitive ability throughout the waking day. This means an increased risk of making mistakes, no matter what you’re doing. You’ll also have decreased reaction time which could lead to an accident and depending on your job, this could be dangerous. You’ll also feel more irritable, have a lot less patience with your co-works and family and overall have to push to get through the day. If you’re a student you will have a very difficult time to stay focused and learn new concepts and retain them.

The Side Effects of Sleep Deprivation

One of the major side effects of sleep deprivation is how it affects our metabolism. Sleep deprivation has been shown to increase our carbohydrate cravings and overall increase our desire for food. This is due to the fact that sleep helps to regulate specific hormones, leptin, ghrelin, and insulin.

Leptin is a hormone released by fat tissue and helps to regulate our metabolism. Once leptin is released it travels to the brain (hypothalamus specifically) to tell our brain that we are not hungry as we already have enough fat stores.

Ghrelin is another hormone released by the stomach when the stomach is empty telling us that we are hungry. Once the stomach is stretched, normally due to intake of food, ghrelin release is stopped and our brain tells us we are full.

Insulin is the other hormone released by our pancreas which tells our body to absorb glucose and to use it to build tissues of the body. It is our main anabolic (building) hormone and plays a crucial role in keeping our blood sugars balanced.

What does this mean?

Thus, when you are sleep deprived your entire metabolism can be thrown out of equilibrium which will lead to weight gain. Research is showing that for every 1 hour of sleep loss it can lead to roughly 0.35 kg of increased weight. Therefore, if you’re trying to lose weight than getting a good nights sleep is going to be crucial for your success.

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