A lack of sleep can contribute to many health problems such as blood pressure, weight gain, and even diabetes. It also can affect our memory, looks and sex life.

Doctors say that most people need about 8 hours of daily (night) sleep to be up to achieving their work during the day. Some need more and some less, it’s not the same for everyone, or able to be defined as an exact number. Every person can figure out how much sleep they need in order to stay optimally active.

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Here are some facts about sleep, how could this affects our health, and some possible solutions for how to deal with it.

A Lack of Sleep Can Cause Early Death

According to various studies:

“The people who have irregular sleep patterns or schedules that do not allow for adequate rest on a regular basis have a higher mortality rate than those who get enough sleep on a regular basis.”

It’s also getting clearer that those who suffer from a lack of sleep are more likely to be at higher risk of getting cardiovascular diseases.

Sleeping Less Can Make You Gain Weight!

Studies have shown that:

“People who sleep less than 7 hours a day are 30% more likely to be obese than those who get nine hours of sleep or more.”

Why is it better to get regular sleep? Because it helps our bodies to manage our appetite and hunger, or more specifically: our hormonal balance. Short periods of sleep increases the production of the hormone ghrelin which stimulates hunger, and decreases the production of leptin which suppresses appetite.

Sleeping Well Multiplies The Sex Drive and Increases Fertility

Men and women who experienced the lack of quality sleep report lower libidos and less interest in sex. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in 2002 said:

Many men with sleep apnea also have low testosterone levels. Nearly half of the men who suffered from severe sleep apnea also secreted abnormally low levels of testosterone during the night.”

The same can be said for fertility, having enough sleep can improve fertility by increasing our secretion of reproductive hormones.

Sleeping Well Keeps Safer From Heart Disease (and Other Diseases too)

Scientists linked sleep deprivation with many diseases, especially those related to the heart, such as heart attacks, failure and irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure and stroke.

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Sleeping Less Could Affect Our Mental Health

Sleep plays an important role in cognitive processes such as thinking and learning, as well as memory. These cognitive skills lose their edge after reduced levels of sleep, especially if over extended periods.

According to American and French researchers:

“The brain events called “sharp wave ripples” are responsible for consolidating memory. The ripples also transfer learned information from the hippocampus to the neocortex of the brain, where long-term memories are stored. Sharp wave ripples occur mostly during the deepest levels of sleep.”

After several sleepless nights, the mental effects become more serious. You won’t be able to concentrate as well and decisions become more blurry. So, if you don’t get enough sleep in the night, you won’t be quite able to remember what you learned and experienced during the day.

Our Skin May Aged More by Lack of Sleep

Maybe you noticed this before (especially if you are a girl). Missing sleep for 1 night can cause puffy eyes and sallow skin. This could increase if the person continues getting too little sleep. A lack of sleep leads to a heightened stress response, leading to higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Higher levels of cortisol degrade collagen (the primary “glue” keeping your cells together) in the skin at 10 times the normal rate (at least for rats.) If this is also true for humans, which is pretty likely, it could explain why a lack of sleep leads to such a ragged appearence.

The following handy infographic explains some tips on how to get a good sleep, sleep related disorders, understanding apnea, foods that contribute to insomnia, and how to get more sleep (or nap). We also have a text about 4 science-based tips on getting a good night’s sleep.

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What about oversleeping?

Just like having too little sleep, sleeping too much can also cause health problems. Oversleeping has been also connected to physical problems such as diabetes and heart disease; it happens most 15-40% of people who suffer depression.