Published on June 30, 2021

10 Deadly Effects Lack of Sleep Can Cause

10 Deadly Effects Lack of Sleep Can Cause

Struggling with sleep? I get it, I have struggled with sleep myself believe it or not. The reality is that sleep is necessary, and there are many negative effects that lack of sleep can cause. But I totally understand how sometimes the nighttime, when everything is quiet and no one else is awake, is the best time to wind down, catch up on your favorite shows, get some work or chores done, or just finally get some quiet me” time as you aimlessly scroll through social media.

Maybe you are actually trying to go to sleep, but the brain continues to perseverate about what you have to do tomorrow and what you didn’t get done today. Either way, you’re not sleeping. Is not sleeping really worth it to sacrifice your physical and mental health? Keep reading to find out.

As a Usui attuned and trained Reiki Level II practitioner, it is believed that our existence is comprised of four bodies: the physical body (biological/physiological), the mental body (thoughts), the emotional body (feelings), and the spiritual body (energy i.e our Chakra System). As a healing coach, I teach my clients that when stressors occur or we have poor treatment of any of the four bodies and lack in basic needs and self-care, it can manifest as actual ailments or disease in any of the four bodies, especially our physical vessel. This is why self-care is so important.

Part of self-care means giving our physical body what it needs. As a trained former psychotherapist and Licensed Social Worker, I know that when we look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, our physiological needs are at the base and bottom of the pyramid and are comprised of necessities for our foundational functioning. You can do a quick Google image search to see the actual pyramid. At the base of the pyramid is psychological needs right under safety needs. The basics of our physiological needs are food/nutrition, shelter, water, air/oxygen, clothing, and of course, sleep!

Think about it like this: the house, apartment, or building you reside in cannot withstand itself without a proper foundation. If there are issues in the foundation or the basement, it could impact the whole structure. If you own a home, then you know that structural damage to the foundation or anything interfering with the foundation of your home could be detrimental to its entire existence and durability in duration. Our body, in this case, is no different. This is why we must give our body the essentials, the same way we give our car’s fuel and gas when it needs it and we reboot our phones or laptops when they need to be shut down or restarted.

Our body needs sleep to function. Depriving yourself of sleep can seriously impact your overall health and your longevity and can also eventually have serious or even deadly effects.

So, how does lack of sleep impact the four bodies? Here are the ten deadly effects lack of sleep can cause.


1. Poor Immune System

Sleep deprivation can decrease your immune system, causing you to be more susceptible to illness, chronic medical conditions, and mental health exacerbations, especially if you are already struggling with mental illness or are immunocompromised, or have an autoimmune disease. If you find yourself getting sick often and you have poor sleep, seek support from a medical provider and be sure to increase intake of any herbal remedies that could support the immune system, such as Vitamin C.

2. Poor Physical Health

Lack of sleep has been said to increase the chances of many chronic medical conditions including heart issues and respiratory issues. Thyroid issues have also been linked to poor sleep because the body is not producing the number of necessary hormones essential for optimal thyroid functioning which can impact the entire body, not just our physical health but our spiritual health (Throat Chakra) and our mental health, too.

When we sleep, our body gets the rest it needs so that while we are asleep, the necessary replenishing of hormones or any other “behind the scenes” work can occur.

3. Poor Productivity

Lack of focus and productivity due to poor sleep, including difficulty falling asleep, disrupted sleep, and difficulty staying asleep can truly play a huge role in our overall productivity during the day. It can increase mental fog, which means that we are not tending to our obligations properly fueled.

This also means that it can hinder progress in our responsibilities and while it may not be deadly to our body, it can surely be deadly to our pockets if we lack laser focus and productivity in the workplace, ultimately causing one to lose their job and causing financial hardship.

4. Poor Mental and Emotional Health

As a former ER social worker, I have seen firsthand how lack of sleep can contribute to poor mental health. This can be witnessed in clients with schizophrenia or even Bipolar Disorder II where their mental health symptoms exacerbate as a result of poor sleep or the lack of sleep in and of itself, which can contribute to manic or crisis episodes.

If you already have an underlying mental health illness or diagnosis or if you have poor mental health hygiene, poor sleep is like a toxin to the mental and emotional bodies. This can cause commendatory auditory and visual hallucinations, disorientation, distorted thinking, or delusions which could result in poor decision making, injury to self and others, or worse.


5. Sleep Disorders

Disordered sleep can impact the longevity and function of our overall circadian rhythm. This is one of the most impactful things that lack of sleep can cause. This impacts us physically and mentally but can also lead to increase chances of developing more severe sleep issues or disorders, such as sleep apnea and insomnia.

It’s important to have a set bedtime and set wake-up time to promote a natural sleep-wake cycle (like the sun and moon), which is ultimately beneficial for your overall health. Additionally, we can become addicted to stimulants or overconsume caffeine, sodas, and energy drinks to support our wake cycle if we are not getting adequate sleep, which also is not good for our health.

6. Forced Shut-Down

Ever have to blast music while driving due to being too tired to drive? I don’t know who needs to hear this, but highway hypnosis is real and when you’re sleep-deprived, especially when driving at night, it can increase your chances of a forced shut-down of the body similar to a prompt computer or phone abrupt shut-down.

As I type this, I think about the scene in the classic comedy movie, National Lampoon’s Vacation, where the character Clark Griswold played by Chevy Chase, falls asleep behind the wheel with his entire family in the car. Now, while he was able to literally evade collision or any other damage in this scene, in real life, this could literally be deadly. Fatigued or drowsy driving is dangerous, especially when operating any heavy machinery or vehicle.

According to CDC,[1]

“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013. However, these numbers are underestimated, and up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers.”

We should promote “don’t drive while fatigued” the same way we promote “don’t drink and drive.” You should think twice because it can truly save a life, especially yours.


7. Increased Irritability or Anger

Have you ever got angry or irritable when you’re hungry? I believe the term is called “hangry.” Well, we most definitely can become more irritable when we have lack sleep. Maybe we should coin that to be called “slirritable”—when we are irritable as a result of poor sleep?

Okay, okay, jokes aside, we need to be mindful of our irritability. This impacts the part of our brain called the amygdala, which is responsible for how we regulate our emotions and respond in times of perceived threats. When we don’t sleep and we get annoyed, triggered, or upset, our “fight, flight, and freeze” response gets innately turned on like a light switch, which in turn impacts how we react to situations and our impulse control.

If we are irritable, we are more likely to get into arguments with people we love or worse get into physical fights, which could be deadly to the relationship itself. Pause and breathe before you react or—as they said in the movie Bad Boys 2 starring Will Smith—“woosah” and go get some rest!

8. Poor Memory

When we have sleep dysfunction, it impacts our overall memory recall and the part of our brain that stores memory, which means we are more prone to making mistakes. I have seen this happen firsthand in overworked nurses whose role is vital in keeping patients safe.

If you are not getting enough sleep, it will surely impact your ability to remember processes, systems, structures, routines, and even basic dates, which makes you accident-prone and more likely to make mistakes. When you are overworked and overly tired, this could be deadly depending on your line of work. One mistake can truly cost a life and your job.

9. Weight Gain

If you’re trying to lose weight, this may be difficult if you’re not allowing your body to rest. During rest and sleep, our body is “burning the midnight oil” as they say, and at work while we sleep. The body is using the fuel and nutrition we fed ourselves throughout the day to burn off calories that could help support weight loss.

Poor weight or obesity can lead to other medical ailments and chronic conditions that could cause an untimely demise. So, it’s important that we allow our internal body to rest and “clock into” that graveyard shift while we actually get some shut-eye.


10. Poor Libido

If nothing I have stated thus far gets you trying to set SMART goals to improve sleep difficulties, having it impact your sex life may just be the motivator you need. Yup! Lack of sleep can decrease sex drive!

Poor sleep can impact the production of vital hormones produced naturally by the body to increase sex drive and libido. Lack of adequate hormone production due to sleep difficulties can then lead to severe sexual dysfunctions, such as erectile dysfunction disorder or infertility and even mood problems—which may cause problems for you and your partner(s), both in and out of the bedroom and even put a strain on relationships.

Final Thoughts

Lastly, as a spiritual and intuitive healer, mindfulness advocate, and yoga teacher, I’ll say this: sleep is essential for our spiritual body, more especially now that we know what lack of sleep can cause.

When we sleep, we ground down, reset, and connect to our subconscious self, higher self, and inner knowing. More importantly, we dream. Some believe we can travel in our dreams, get visits from our loved ones who have transitioned and passed on, and even receive guidance and messages. We release, we rest, and we heal all four bodies. It’s no wonder that when we are sick or ill, our body forces us to sleep. Allow yourself the permission to embrace your ultimate pause—the permission to sleep.

If you’re struggling with sleep or your nightly routines, be sure to reach out to your medical and mental health providers for support to ensure optimal health in the four bodies. Referrals for sleep studies can help support any underlying medical etiology related to your sleep concerns or issues. A mental health provider can also help support your sleep difficulties and needs.

Now, go rest!

What You Can Do To Have Sufficient Sleep

Featured photo credit: Kinga Cichewicz via



[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Drowsy Driving: Asleep at the Wheel

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Iris Mendez

I help women co-facilitate healing in the 4 bodies, stop limiting beliefs, root down + rise through breath, body, and energy coaching!

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Last Updated on July 22, 2021

How to Quit Drinking for a Healthier Body and Mind

How to Quit Drinking for a Healthier Body and Mind

Has anyone ever suggested that you should cut down on your drinking or, for that matter, quit drinking alcohol out of your life completely? Have you ever felt that way on your own, especially after waking up super late for work with a pounding headache and blurred vision the day after a long night out on the town or getting down in the club?

Let me start by saying that I am not trying to demonize the consumption of adult alcoholic beverages. I’m the last person to judge you or anyone else for making a conscious decision to drink alcohol responsibly. Instead, as a licensed mental health counselor and certified master addiction professional, I have a professional responsibility to help my clients take greater control over their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors by gaining insight into the underlying issues that have negatively impacted their lives.

Is Drinking Alcohol a Problem for You?

First things first. Is drinking alcohol a problem for you? Since alcohol has been known to impair your judgment, you may not even realize that it is.

According to the 5th Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or more commonly referred to as the DSM-5, the universal reference guide used by mental health and addiction professionals to diagnose all substance abuse and mental health disorders, alcohol use disorder is defined as a “problematic pattern of alcohol use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress.”

It is manifested by experiencing at least two of the following symptoms within a 12-month period:[1]

  1. Alcohol consumed in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended
  2. Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control the use of alcohol
  3. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain, use, or recover from the effects of alcohol.
  4. Craving or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol
  5. Recurrent alcohol use results in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, and home.
  6. Continued alcohol use despite persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused by or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol
  7. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced.
  8. Recurrent alcohol use in physically hazardous situations
  9. Alcohol use is continued despite the knowledge of having persistent or hazardous physical or psychological problems likely caused by alcohol.
  10. Tolerance is present in which there is a need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication.
  11. Withdrawal, as evidenced by experiencing any combination of both physical and psychological discomfort following cessation after a period of heavy or prolonged alcohol use.

Nevertheless, just because you may not meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder, does not mean that you should not quit drinking alcohol. Although you may appear to be able to handle your alcohol on the outside, excessive alcohol use has been shown to negatively impact your overall health. Just like nicotine, alcohol is a habit-forming drug.


However, unlike the stimulant properties found within nicotine, alcohol is classified as a depressant. It essentially slows down your central nervous system’s ability to effectively process feelings, emotions, and information.

With your defenses down, alcohol can make you feel more emotionally sensitive, sad, vulnerable, and depressed—for example, with regard to bringing back feelings associated with past traumas that you may have worked hard to overcome, or perhaps those in which you may have never had the time to properly address at all.

A study published by the National Institute for Health showed that alcoholics were somewhere between 60 and 120 times more likely to complete suicide than those free from psychiatric illness.[2]  Additionally, although having a couple of cocktails may make it easier for you to talk to a stranger as it lowers your inhibitions, it can also negatively impact your judgment—for example, by drinking and driving.

Additionally, alcohol has been known to make people more argumentative and belligerent, especially when they are confronted about the issue. A study published by the World Health Organization estimates that approximately 55% of domestic violence perpetrators were drinking alcohol prior to the assault and that women who were abused were 15 times more likely to abuse alcohol.[3]

When it comes to your physical health, there is an overabundance of ways in which excessive drinking is bad for your body. Since alcohol provides little or no nutritional value and is often combined with high-calorie mixers, it can lead to obesity.

People who drink alcohol in excess are generally less physically active, thereby increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.[4] Additionally, excessive drinking inflames the pancreas, making it more difficult for it to secrete insulin, thereby contributing to diabetes.


Furthermore, excessive alcohol use can lead to liver damage, such as cirrhosis, in which the body is unable to properly remove waste products from the blood leaving the stomach and intestines. As a result, people with cirrhosis of the liver may appear jaundiced, swollen, and confused. A recent study published by Forbes indicated that even moderate drinking tracked with decreases in both grey and white brain matter, essentially interfering with brain functioning as it alters the brain’s chemistry and composition.[5]

With all of that being said, if you feel that alcohol use may be getting in the way of being able to maintain a healthy lifestyle, I recommend that you take a moment to consider these six simple ways to quit drinking alcohol to achieve a healthier mind, body, and soul.

1. Stay Away From the Bottle

If you happen to be a recreational drinker—someone who has a couple of drinks here and there, every so often or once in a blue moon—and you want to quit drinking alcohol altogether, the easiest way to quit drinking alcohol is just to stay as far away from it as possible. I mean it’s really that simple, isn’t it? Not so fast! Alcohol is everywhere, from the supermarket to the soccer field.

Even with all of the potential risks, people continue to drink alcohol at any number of social gatherings, business meetings, and even religious ceremonies, activities that are in many cases almost impossible to avoid completely. Sporting events, for example, all seem to be sponsored by sleek, sexy, and, at the same time, remarkably socially conscious breweries.

Nevertheless, although alcohol is everywhere, the next time you go out with your friends to your favorite hotspot, try ordering tonic water with lime, or perhaps even the virgin version of your favorite cocktail instead—like a pina colada or strawberry daiquiri—so you can keep the umbrella and just get rid of the rum.

2. Set Expectations With Others

Unless you are prepared to cut ties with all of your friends and family members who like to drink alcohol, be prepared to set certain expectations with them when it comes to drinking when you are around them.


First, let them know that you are not judging them but rather, making a personal choice not to drink alcohol. Then, set clear boundaries with them by letting them know whether or not you are comfortable being around them when they choose to drink. Remember, you are the most powerful gatekeeper of everyone and everything that surrounds you.

3. Own Your Issues!

The first step to quitting alcohol—or quitting the use of any habit-forming mood-altering substance for that matter—is to first admit that you have a problem with it, whatever the problem may be. I suggest that you first start by identifying how alcohol has either already affected your life, or how it could do so in the future if you continue to drink.

Take a personal inventory of everything important to you, such as your relationship with your family and your faith, as well as the condition of your health and your personal finances. Then, carefully consider how alcohol could be negatively impacting each item. Set aside some personal quality time to journal all of your thoughts in black and white to help you see the situation from a more objective point of view. Take it from me, it’s not easy to admit that you have a problem, but once you do, it can be a very liberating feeling.

4. Ask for Help

Once you have admitted to yourself that you have a problem with alcohol, you can then admit it to someone else, preferably someone who can help you process your feelings and concerns in a safe, constructive, and non-judgmental way.

Although family and friends may be very supportive, you may want to work with a therapist who can offer a more objective perspective along with a variety of tools to not only help you stay sober but also process and ultimately work through any underlying issues that may have caused you to drink in the first place.

Furthermore, in the unfortunate event that you have become physically dependent on alcohol to make it through the day, medical supervision may be needed to help you manage any combination of withdrawal symptoms, including restlessness, anxiety, chills, nausea, and even potentially life-threatening seizures.


5. Join a Support Group

When you are trying to defend yourself against a cunning, baffling, and powerful opponent, there is usually strength in numbers. Beyond reaching out for professional help to address any underlying issues that may be holding you or anyone else back from staying sober, joining a support group is an excellent way to strengthen your foundation for recovery from alcoholism.

Although caring friends and family may be able to provide you with unconditional love, members of your support group may also be able to offer a much more objective step-building approach for long-term sobriety. Fortunately, there are support group meetings available all over the world, you just have to look for one that meets your needs.

6. Make a Commitment to Stay Sober

After you have owned your issues and learned the tools to stay sober, the next step is to commit yourself to actually staying sober. Breaking a bad habit does not usually happen overnight. Typically, it’s a process that requires time and tenacity. There is no exception when it comes to quitting alcohol.

Nevertheless, many people find themselves frantically trying to stop drinking after any combination of unfortunate, uncomfortable, and sometimes unforgiving events, such as being fired from a job, having an argument with a loved one, getting caught driving under the influence, and experiencing medical complications associated with alcohol use, such as liver failure.

Final Thoughts

In the end, If you truly want to quit drinking, make an open and honest commitment to yourself that you will not only put away the bottle but that you will also take out the tools every day to stay mentally, physically, and spiritually sober.

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