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15 Hair-Raising Consequences of Sleep Deprivation

15 Hair-Raising Consequences of Sleep Deprivation

We live in a time when sleep is just a substitute of coffee for people who have too much free time on their hands. We all try to squeeze as many things into our daily schedule as possible. Theoretically, we all know that we need more sleep, but there are so many matters that require our urgent presence. But it turns out that we might be doing ourselves a grave disservice.

It’s time to face the cold and cruel reality and recognize sleep deprivation as the archenemy of our well-being. Raise your pillows! This is your wake-up call (pun so absolutely intended).

Let’s take a look at what will happen if you neglect your sleep:

1. You will be ugly.

Shocking, isn’t it?! Well, not really. I can bet that you’ve never heard anyone complimenting your swollen eyelids, pale skin and droopy corners of the mouth. And that’s precisely what scientists from Karolinska Institute in Stockholm have confirmed in their study titled Cues of Fatigue: Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Facial Appearance.

Ten participants of the study were kept awake for 31 hours. Subsequently, their before and after pictures were assessed by 40 observers. The verdict was, of course, unanimous. All of the participants were perceived as less health, sadder, and more fatigued after the 31-hour period of sleeplessness.

2. You will be drunk.

You might not be literally drunk, but it has been estimated that “17 hours of sustained wakefulness was equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.05%.” (Drowsy Driving Prevention by Siobhan Kuhar, MD, PhD, DABSM).

Sleepiness has comparable impact on our mind to alcohol (minus fun factor of course)–it decreases awareness, impairs judgment and slows reaction time.

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Sleep deprivation makes you drunk

    3. You will be less innovative.

    Are you planning to create a next big thing in the likes of Twitter or Facebook? There is a slim chance that you’ll succeed while suffering from sleep deprivation.

    Research conducted on a military personnel who were kept awake for two days revealed significantly reduced ability to come up with ideas about given topics [May, J., Kline, P. (1987) Measuring the effects on cognitive abilities of sleep loss during continuous operations. British Journal of Psychology].

    4. Your resting blood pressure will increase.

    There is a growing body of research confirming that sleep deprivation leads to increased blood pressure (Fujikawa et al., 2009). What’s more, for people with hypertension as little as even half a night of sleep can lead to the same result (Lusardi et al., 1996).

    5. You will be dumber.

    I think that we all have experienced it at some point in our lives–even small amounts of sleeplessness affect our cognitive functions.

    study conducted in 2004 showed that those deprived of sleep for 24 hours have trouble remembering, and difficulty concentrating. So say goodbye to proper reasoning and your problem-solving skills! What’s more, even one night of sleep loss will reduce your ability to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information.

    6. You will get sick.

    During sleep, the immune system produces cytokines–proteins which combat various types of viruses. Their number increases when your body needs protection from bacteria.

    Sleep deprivation means that we are more prone to disease and virus attacks as the level of cytokines drop (Susan Zafarlotfi, PhD, clinical director, Institute for Sleep and Wake Disorders, Hackensack University Medical Center, N.J.).

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    You will get sick

      7. You will look old.

      That’s right. You can spend all you want on magical beauty products but it won’t help you if you’re sleep deprived.

      Why?

      Stress increases the production of a hormone called cortisol, which increases sebum secretion and contributes to the attacks of acne. Sleep plays a key role in the process of skin regeneration. While you sleep, stress hormones return to normal levels and give cells time to repair and regenerate.

      The study included premenopausal women, aged 30-49 years, half of whom were classified as having poor quality sleep. Several tests have confirmed that the dermal tissue of sleep deprived women have twice as many internal indicators of aging, such as wrinkles, blemishes, low level of firmness and elasticity (Effects of Sleep Quality on Skin Aging and Function, University Hospitals Case Medical Center)

      8. You will kill your sex drive.

      If your libido drops, it is possible that you are not getting enough sleep. Fatigue, depleted energy and increased tension are usual culprits. But for men with sleep apnea another factor comes into play.

      A study published in 2002 (Lavie, P. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism; vol 87: pp 3394-3398.) suggests that men suffering from this condition have abnormally low levels of testosterone.

      How to kill your libido

        9. You will get fat.

        I know it’s a bit depressing, but it turns out that losing sleep can make you gain weight.

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        The fact that people who sleep more are less likely to be overweight has been confirmed by many studies (Stephanie M. Greer, Andrea N. Goldstein, Matthew P. Walker. The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain. Nature Communications, 2013; 4 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3259). Research has shown that people who sleep less than four hours a day are more likely to be obese by an average of 73% than the ones who sleep normally.

        Why is that?

        Hormones. Those pesky hormones! Hunger signals in the brain are controlled by ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin sends a signal to the brain that it’s time to eat. On the other hand, leptin, a hormone produced in adipose tissue, reduces appetite and causes the feeling of satiety. When we are tired, the level of ghrelin in our bloodstream increases while the level of leptin decreases.

        10. You will feel cold.

        Make sure you have your jumper handy. Sleep deprivation slows down your metabolism, which in turn lowers your body temperature (M Suzanne Stevens, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Neurology, Medical and Laboratory Director of Sleep Medicine Clinic, University of Kansas: Normal Sleep, Sleep Physiology, and Sleep Deprivation).

        11. You will get depressed.

        According to statistics, patients with sleep problems are more likely to develop a wide array of mood disorders. Take your pick: Irritability? Check. Mood swings? Check. Anxiety? Double check!

        What’s more, the risk of depression among sleep deprived patients is four times higher than among healthy subjects. If the period of insomnia lasts long enough, it can even lead to suicidal thoughts (National Sleep Foundation: “Teens and Sleep,” “ABCs of ZZZZs — When you Can’t Sleep,” “2005 Adult Sleep Habits and Styles.”).

        12. You will damage your bones.

        Ok, I admit, it might be a little bit far-fetched. So far it’s been proven true among rats. In a 2012 study, researchers found changes to bone mineral density and bone marrow in these little creatures after they were kept awake for 72 days. It’s speculated that the inability to repair bone damage while being sleep deprived might be also true for us (Everson CA, Folley AE, Toth JM., Chronically inadequate sleep results in abnormal bone formation and abnormal bone marrow in rats).

        13. You will be clumsy.

        Don’t even think about showing your friends cool butterfly knife tricks after a night without proper shut-eye. According to Clete Kushida, M.D., Ph.D., director of Stanford University Center for Human Sleep Research, lack of sleep compromises our balance and depth perception, as well as dulls our reflexes. In other words, it’s bad for our  motor skills.

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        14. You will be overly emotional.

        Does the picture of this puppy brings tears to your eyes? Then get a grip on yourself, or on the pillow since it turns out that lack of sleep makes us emotionally volatile.

        One of the studies conducted among 26 participants has showed a 60% rise in the amygdala activity (compared to well-rested volunteers), which is responsible for processing fear and anxiety (Seung-Schik Yoo, Ninad Gujar, Peter Hu, Ferenc A. Jolesz and Matthew P. Walker, The human emotional brain without sleep — a prefrontal amygdala disconnect).

        You will be overly emotional

          15. You will live shorter.

          Numerous studies report that sleep deprivation causes increase in mortality even after adjusting for other medical conditions that affect sleep and death rates, such as obesity, alcohol and depression, as well as for age, race, education and body mass index.

          A 2010 study established that men who slept for less than six hours a night were four times more likely to die over a 14-year period (The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Insomnia with Short Sleep Duration and Mortality).

          Time for a new resolution

          I don’t know how about you, but I solemnly swear that I’ll at least try to sleep more. It’s worth it.

          Need help? Here are some great tips to get some quality shut-eye.

          Have you noticed any of these symptoms in yourself or maybe have some interesting story to share as a warning? Let us know in the comments.

          Featured photo credit: clock black church/Dan Shirley (Fishmonk) via rgbstock.com

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          Last Updated on March 21, 2019

          11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

          11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

          Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

          You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

          But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

          To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

          It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

          “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

          The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

          In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

          Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

          1. Start Small

          The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

          Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

          Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

          Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

          Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

          Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

          It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

          Do less today to do more in a year.

          2. Stay Small

          There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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          But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

          If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

          When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

          I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

          Why?

          Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

          The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

          Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

          3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

          No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

          There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

          What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

          Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

          This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

          This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

          4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

          When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

          There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

          Peter Drucker said,

          “What you track is what you do.”

          So track it to do it — it really helps.

          But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

          5. Measure Once, Do Twice

          Peter Drucker also said,

          “What you measure is what you improve.”

          So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

          For reading, it’s 20 pages.
          For writing, it’s 500 words.
          For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
          For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

          Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

          6. All Days Make a Difference

          Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

          Will two? They won’t.

          Will three? They won’t.

          Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

          What happened? Which one made you fit?

          The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

          No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

          7. They Are Never Fully Automated

          Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

          But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

          What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

          It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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          The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

          It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

          It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

          8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

          Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

          Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

          When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

          The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

          Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

          9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

          The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

          Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

          You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

          But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

          So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

          If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

          This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

          The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

          Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

          10. Punish Yourself

          Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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          I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

          It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

          You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

          No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

          The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

          But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

          11. Reward Yourself

          When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

          Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

          The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

          After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

          If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

          Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

          If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

          In the End, It Matters

          What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

          When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

          And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

          “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

          Keep going.

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          More Resources to Help You Build Habits

          Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
          [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
          [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
          [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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