Sleep Deprivation Leads to Surprising Results

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We all know we need sleep to make it through the day but not getting those Zzs can lead to some long-term health risks and consequences.

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is a condition that occurs when you don’t get enough sleep. Royal Philips Electronics conducted a global survey the ‘Philips Index for Health and Well-being: A global perspective’ and found Americans top the list when it comes to sleep deprivation (49%). Sleep deprivation is linked with long-term health consequences that can be over looked. The following are just some consequences from sleep deprivation.

Immune System

Have you ever noticed when you’re not feeling well you haven’t gotten enough sleep. Researchers have found an explanation. Researchers had taken blood samples from 11 female identical twin pairs with an average age of 42 years with different sleep patterns. They found those with shorter duration of sleep had a depressed immune system. According to lead author Dr. Nathaniel Watson, co-director of the UW Medicine Sleep Center at Harborview Medical Center, “What we show is that the immune system functions best when it gets enough sleep. Seven or more hours of sleep is recommended for optimal health.” Researchers noted genetics account for 31 to 55 percent of sleep duration and behavior and environment account for the remainder.

Consume More Calories

Does shorter sleep duration contribute to weight gain? A study published last year led by researchers at King’s College London conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis evaluating the effects of partial sleep deprivation (sleeping too little for several days or weeks) on energy intake and expenditure. The researchers combined results of 11 studies in which provided sufficient information for their analysis. The results showed energy intake increased by 385 calories associated with greater higher fat and lower protein intakes but no effects were found on carbohydrates. In long-term this may contribute to weight gain.. (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2, 2016, doi:10.1038/ejcn.2016.201)

Heart Function

A study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA December 2016, researchers for the first time had shown too little sleep has your heart paying a price. Dr. Daniel Kuetting, MD, at the University of Bonn in Bonn, Germany and colleges recruited 20 participants who underwent a scanning on a clinical 1.5 T cardiovascular MR scanner before and following a 24-hour shift with an average of three hours of sleep. The researchers also collected blood and urine samples and had taken participants blood pressure and heart rate. After short-term sleep deprivation found increases in systolic blood pressure (before 112.8 and after sleep deprivation 118.5), diastolic blood pressure (before 62.9 and after 69.2) and heart rate (before 63.0 and after 68.9).

Higher Risk Stroke/Heart Attack

Research published in the European Heart Journal reveals lack of sleep is associated with strokes, heart attacks and cardiovascular mortality. Researchers evaluated the association between sleep duration, morbidity and mortality from coronary heart disease, stroke and total cardiovascular disease. A systematic search was conducted for studies with follow-ups three years and older, duration of sleep, cases of coronary heart disease, stroke or cardiovascular disease. Overall 15 studies with over 474,000 males and females with follow-up at 6.9 – 25 years and included events of 4,169 coronary heart disease, 3,478 stroke and 8,420 total cardiovascular disease. Sleep duration was assessed by questionnaire and incident cases through certification and event registers. The study found those with sleep deprivation had a higher risk of developing or dying from coronary heart disease or stroke compared to those who get 7 – 8 hours of sleep nightly. However, those sleeping nine hours or more at a time are also at risk for these events. (Eur Heart J (2011) 32 (12): 1484-1492, February 7, 2011, DOI:

Junk Food

Reaching for some chips or ice cream when you find you can’t sleep and may be your brain telling you too. Researchers from University of California, Berkeley, note that sleep loss is a risk factor for obesity in children and adults according to studies. Previous studies have associated poor sleep to greater appetite especially for foods that are sweet and salty. Using an MRI researchers scanned the brains of 23 young healthy adults as they saw a series of 80 food images ranging from high-to low-calorie and healthy and unhealthy and rated how much they wanted the foods they had seen. As an incentive after they scan participants were given the foods they strongly desired. Food choices in the study ranged from fruits and vegetables to high calories foods of burgers, pizza and doughnuts. Scans were taken after a normal night’s sleep and a sleepless night. The researchers found impaired activity in the sleep-deprived brain's frontal lobe (decision making area) but increased activity in the deeper brain centers in which respond to rewards. High calorie foods were more desired when sleep deprived. The findings show that getting sufficient sleep is one factor that helps weight control by preparing the mechanisms that control healthy food choices. (The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain. Nature Communications, 2013; 4 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3259)

Biological Aging

Research presented Wednesday, June 10, in Seattle, Washington, at SLEEP 2015, the 29th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC, suggests partial sleep deprivation can have you looking older than you really are. A study consisted of 29 older adults ages 51 -86 years with 48 percent being male. Participants underwent partial sleep deprivation for four nights (restricted 3 a.m. - 7 a.m.) and another uninterrupted night of sleep. Blood samples were taken each morning. The study showed a causal link between partial sleep deprivation and biological aging. The study supports the hypothesis that sleep deprivation may be linked with higher risk of disease because it promotes molecular processes involved in biological aging.

Sugary Drinks

Sugar-sweetened beverages are a main factor for developing obesity and cardiometabolic diseases. Sleep deprivation has been associated to increased appetite and obesity. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco led this new study of over 18,000 adults. Researchers used data from the 2005-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Researchers examined self-reported sleep duration and beverage consumption (sugar-sweetened beverages, juice, water, coffee and tea) from two 24 hour dietary reports among 18,779 adults. The adults who slept seven to eight hours night were the reference group. The results showed 13 percent of adults slept five or less hours per night and had a 21 percent increase of sugary sweetened beverage consumption Adults who slept nine hours or more per night had fewer servings of coffee and water. The researchers concluded sleeping five hour or less a night is linked to greater consumption of sugared caffeinated sodas. Caffeinated drinks could account for impaired sleep and there is a possibility that sleep deprivation could influence ones desire to consume sugared caffeine drinks. (Short and sweet: Associations between self-reported sleep duration and sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among adults in the United States. Sleep Health, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.sleh.2016.09.007)


In a meta-analysis researchers searched articles that characterized sleep disturbance and/or sleep duration or performed experimental sleep deprivation and assessed inflammation by levels of circulating markers. A total of 72 studies were examined for C-reactive protein, interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor, indicators of inflammation. The results showed sleep disturbances and long sleep duration (over 8 hours) are associated with markers of inflammation (C-reactive protein and inteleukin-6). (Disturbance, Sleep Duration, and Inflammation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Cohort Studies and Experimental Sleep Deprivation. Biological Psychiatry, 2016; 80 (1): 40 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.05.014)

Practice Sleep Hygiene

Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, Nicotine or other Chemicals that interfere with sleep.

You may love that cup of coffee but it isn’t such a great idea at night due to the caffeine being a stimulant. Caffeine can also be found in tea, cola, chocolate and some pain relievers. Stop using four to six hours before bedtime.

Make your Bedroom Sleep Friendly

Dark, cool and quite surroundings can bring you to a restful slumber. Use ear plugs or a white noise machine for sleep. Block out light with dark and heavy curtains, room darkening shades or use a sleep mask. Make sure your bed is comfy cozy from mattress to pillows and even sheets. Have your room for sleep not as an office or television viewing.

Keep a Routine

Wake time to sleep time should be easy. Before bed read a book, do some breathing exercise or watch a little television. Do not do work even housework and avoid conflicts.Going to bed and waking up at the same time will set yours internal clock which makes your body wanting to sleep or wake up at the same time every day.

If your Groggy It is Time

If you’re lying in bed and watching the ceiling, get out of bed. Go to a different a room and watch some television or read a good book until you start getting sleepy.

No Clock Watching

If you are trying to sleep watching the numbers tick by is not going to help. Turn the clock away from you. If you wake in the middle night and can’t fall back asleep once again get out of bed. Go do a relaxing activity with dim light not bright. When that sleepy feeling happens go back to bed.

To Nap or Not to Nap that is the Question

Taking a short nap before 5 pm should not disturb you’re nighttime slumber but after five will mess up your sleep schedule.

Snack Time

As it was mentioned junk food will keep your awake and could tip that bathroom scale. Try yogurt or fresh fruit.

Is it Time for the Doctor

Practicing sleep hygiene and making lifestyle changes can be beneficial for mild or moderate problems. However you should see your doctor if:

The cause of your sleep problem, disorder or deprivation is unexplained.

You are worried about your sleep deprivation.

You are worried there may be an underlying problem that is causing your sleep problem, disorder or deprivation.


A Vogel Sleep Help Hub (2010, November 11). Global citizens’ feeling of health and well-being not linked to a nation’s wealth.
News Beat UW Health Services Nodell, B. (2017, January 26) Chronic sleep deprivation suppresses immune system
Radiological Society of North America. "Short-term sleep deprivation affects heart function." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 December 2016. <>.
Cappuccio, F. P., Cooper, D., D’Elia, L., Strazzullo, P., & Miller, M. A. (2011). Sleep duration predicts cardiovascular outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. European Heart Journal, 32(12), 1484–1492. doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehr007
document. (2015, June 10). Partial sleep deprivation linked to biological aging in older adults - American academy of sleep medicine (AASM).
Twelve simple tips to improve your sleep. Retrieved February 6, 2017, from


Body, Chronic Health Problems, Dangers, Health, Insufficient Sleep, Long-Term Effects, Morbidity, Mortality, Sleep Deprivation

Meet the author

author avatar authordeb
Author of the Love and Laughter series
Alternative Medicine Practitioner
Freelance Health Write
Works with Media companies for interviews and articles such as Howie Mandel for Afib,

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