Not getting enough sleep may not seem like a big deal, and honestly, the odd night of insomnia every now and again isn’t likely to do you any real harm provided that you catch up on your sleep over the next few days. However, persistent sleep deficiency can actually be very harmful – both for your own health and, in some cases, for people around you. For example, research has shown that regular poor sleep puts you at risk of some serious medical conditions including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Statistics also show that as many as 1 in 25 adult drivers fall asleep at the wheel each month and 10,000 people every year die as a result of falling asleep whilst driving.
Getting enough sleep is vitally important if we are to enjoy a long and healthy life. Here’s what you need to know about why sleep is so important, and why you should get in touch with our sleep experts if you feel that you aren’t getting enough.
The Effect Of Sleep Deficiency On Your Health
One night of poor sleep tends to leave us feeling out of sorts, but generally doesn’t have any impact on our health. However, if you regularly spend the night tossing and turning, or going to sleep late and getting up early, you could be putting yourself at more risk than you realize.
Although this list is by no means exhaustive, here are some of the main effects that sleep deficiency can have on your health:
- Raised Blood Pressure
If you get less than 5 hours of sleep each night, your risk of high blood pressure increases. High blood pressure, increased heart rate and higher levels of inflammation-causing chemicals have all shown to be linked, and all of these can put unnecessary strain on your heart.
- Increased Risk Of Diabetes
A lack of sleep affects your body’s ability to produce/release insulin, and this could mean that your blood sugar levels become dangerously high. This means that you have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Weakened Immunity
Some research has shown that sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system, making you more likely to catch viruses such as cold and flu. It also makes you less able to tackle more serious health problems should you be affected by any.
- Weight Gain
People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to overindulge than those who get enough rest each night. This happens for two reasons. Firstly, if you are tired you are more likely to want to eat – and in particularly carbohydrate-based foods – so that you can obtain more energy. Secondly, when you are sleep-deprived, the chemicals that tell your brain that you are no longer hungry don’t work efficiently, and this can lead to you over-eating. Obesity is a leading cause of many health problems, so getting enough sleep can be crucial in helping you to maintain your weight.
Sleep Deficiency And Driving
In order to be able to drive safely, we need to be alert and pay attention to our surroundings at all times. Reaction times are crucial for virtually every aspect of driving, from when to pull out of a junction or change lanes, to when to apply the brakes. Unfortunately, when you haven’t had enough sleep, it affects:
- Our ability to pay attention to the road
- Our ability to react quickly to unexpected events, such as needing to brake suddenly
- Our ability to make good decisions about what to do on the road
This means that driving when tired could lead to us being poorer drivers than before, and when you are in a moving vehicle, the situation can quickly become extremely dangerous both for passengers inside the car with you, and people on the road and sidewalks around you. Just a few seconds of lapse of concentration could see you swerving across lanes, mounting pavements or plowing into the back of a stationary vehicle.
Warning Signs That You Are Driving Drowsy
If you experience any of the following, you are likely to be driving whilst tired and should pull over to rest as soon as it is safe and reasonable to do so:
- Yawning frequently.
- Blinking frequently.
- Drifting across your lane.
- Not remembering elements of your journey, which can mean you haven’t been paying attention to the road.
- Seeming to suddenly be further into your journey than you expect, which again means that you may not have been paying attention.
- Missing your exit.
- Hitting the rumble strip on the side of the road.
Fortunately, good sleep habits and ensuring that you get enough rest every night can ensure that you don’t end up driving drowsy and putting yourself and others in danger.
How United Sleep Apnea Services Can Help
We understand just how important sleep is for you to be an active, healthy and happy individual. Our expert team can help you discover the obstacles that are preventing you from getting enough good quality sleep that is vital for your well being, and together, we will remove these hurdles so that you can enjoy the sleep that you need and deserve. Please contact our team today to schedule your consultation.