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7 Surprising Consequences of Not Getting Enough Sleep

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7 Surprising Consequences of Not Getting Enough Sleep

Most of us get a good night’s sleep when it’s convenient. Or when we’re so tired we can’t keep our eyes open. But research and experts argue that a good night’s sleep needs to be a priority, not a luxury.

Here are seven reasons you need to start taking sleep deprivation seriously and get your recommended eight hours of sleep every night. If you tend to toss and turn at night, there are suggestions below on small changes you can make to help you get restful sleep.

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1. It drags down your sex drive.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “cutting back on sleep drastically reduces a healthy young man’s testosterone levels,” One of the many negative effects of reduced testosterone is lowered libido.

2. It can lead you to make tragic mistakes.

The Huffington Post says sleep deprivation played a role in Chernobyl, the Three Mile Island accident, the Challenger explosion, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the American Airlines Flight 1420 crash.

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3. It impairs you as a driver.

According to the CDC, “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013.” These statistics become more even alarming when the article states “an estimated 1 in 25 adult drivers (aged 18 years or older) report having fallen asleep while driving in the previous 30 days.”

4. It makes it hard to lose weight or prevents weight gain.

WebMD reports that “in a review of 18 studies, researchers found that a lack of sleep led to increased cravings for energy-dense, high-carbohydrate foods.” This certainly isn’t helpful for weight loss, and additional studies support the idea that if you want to get slim, you need to get sleep.

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5. It can lead to serious health problems.

Healthline reports that “sleep deprivation can lead to higher risk of chronic health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.”

6. It can contribute to depression.

The National Sleep Foundation says “sleep problems may cause or contribute to depressive disorders.” This can turn into a vicious circle because depression, in turn, is suspected to interfere with sleep.

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7. It messes with your moods.

A Harvard Med article reports that “University of Pennsylvania researchers found that subjects who were limited to only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted.” (Here’s the research study’s abstract.)

How to get a good night’s sleep

Hopefully this post has inspired you to strive for better sleep. Experts recommend adults make it a priority to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night. If you struggle to get a good night’s sleep, here are a few tips:

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  • The Mayo Clinic warns that “the stimulating effects of nicotine and caffeine take hours to wear off and can wreak havoc on quality sleep.” So you might want to consider passing on a soda at dinner or an evening smoke.
  • Dr. Michael J. Breus of The Huffington Post recommends making your bedroom cool and dark to create a sleep-friendly environment.
  • The National Sleep Foundation encourages you to invest in a comfortable mattress and nice pillows. And it also says to “use your bed only for sleep and sex to strengthen the association between bed and sleep.”
  • Here’s a surprising tip from Kansas State University: “Never oversleep.” The university’s article argues you should get up at the same time every day because “sleeping late for just a couple of days can reset your body clock to a different cycle–you’ll be getting sleepy later and waking up later.” Upon further research, I found this opinion to be fairly common. Sticking to a sleep schedule increases the chances your body will be tired at bedtime.

Try these ideas to get a better night’s sleep and to avoid the surprising consequences of not having enough sleep. Your health, your safety, and your sex drive might depend on it.

Featured photo credit: 40+293 Snooze/bark via flickr.com

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