“Can you die from lack of sleep?”
Everyone experiences sleeplessness at some point. Who hasn’t attempted to pull an all-nighter during slumber parties or in college? Chances are you’ve laid awake at night tossing and turning a handful of times.
But when does constant sleeplessness become a serious problem? What kinds of health issues can eventually arise? Here are seven facts you need to know.
In short, not sleeping won’t kill you. But the effects of sleep deprivation can deteriorate your health in major ways.
Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night – but everyone is different. Some adults can function on six hours of sleep, while others may need ten.
If you’ve ever felt the need “to catch up on sleep”, there’s a reason for that. Every hour of sleep you lose adds up into something known as “sleep debt”. Until your body catches up on its sleep debt, you’ll feel tired and generally unwell.
How long does it take for the effects of sleep deprivation to kick in?
It varies for everybody. Some people can go up to twenty hours without sleep and feel fine. Others may begin to feel the effects around the fourteenth or sixteenth hour.
Generally speaking, the immediate effects of sleeplessness are the same. You’ll begin to feel groggy. You might have trouble concentrating or remembering things. Your mood will likely a take turn for the worse, as well.
Those who’ve gone days without sleep can experience auditory or visual hallucinations. Delirium can also occur.
Everyone catches the occasional cold or stomach bug from time to time. But if you aren’t sleeping on a regular basis, your body is more susceptible to getting sick.
Our immune system is a natural barrier against viruses and bacteria. To function properly, it needs adequate nourishment and rest. When we aren’t rested, we weaken our immune system and its ability to fight off illness.
Fevers will often occur at nighttime when your body naturally desires sleep. Your body wants to fight and respond with a fever. But if you aren’t sleeping, it’s not able to do so, prolonging illness and making you feel worse.
Have you ever noticed that you crave sweets and salty foods when you haven’t slept? That’s because junk food cravings increase when we haven’t slept. There are a couple of reasons why this happens.
A lack of sleep hinders our decision-making ability. When we haven’t slept, the reward areas in our brains are more easily triggered, as well.
With all these factors working together, we’re more likely to go for junk food when we’re tired. Plus, when you’re depleted of energy, you’re less motivated to work out.
Weight gain puts you at risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. It can also put you at risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
A short bout of insomnia likely won’t cause significant weight gain. But over time, the scale will start to increase as chronic insomnia wrecks havoc on your health.
They don’t call it “beauty sleep” for nothing. Not sleeping causes our skin to develop fine lines, wrinkles, and a dull appearance. It can also cause bags or dark circles under the eyes.
That’s not all. Lack of adequate sleep can interfere with our sex drive and mood. Over time, it can even lead to anxiety, depression, and memory problems.
Chronic insomnia makes you more prone to accidents. When you aren’t rested, you’re more susceptible to falling asleep at work, out in public, or behind the wheel.
Can you die from lack of sleep?
Not exactly. But in extremely rare cases, fatal familial insomnia can kill you.
This rare type of insomnia causes mutations in the brain. These mutations alter the brain over time and cause panic attacks and rapid weight loss. It progresses into dementia, and eventually, death.
If you’re currently experiencing a bout of insomnia, there’s likely no reason to panic. Fatal familial insomnia is rare and genetic. If anyone in your family has had it or other degenerative brain disorders, talk to your doctor.
Are you constantly fatigued during the day even though you’re getting enough sleep? Do you ever snore so loudly that you wake yourself up in the middle of the night?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes shallow breathing and pauses in breath. It can interfere with your quality of sleep and lead to poor performance in work or school. You can find out more about sleep apnea and how it may be affecting your body’s ability to rest properly.
Is chronic insomnia leaving you desperate for a solution? There are a number of possibilities as to why you’re struggling to sleep.
Not only can drinking too much caffeine interfere with your sleep. Drinking caffeine too late in the day may be keeping you up at night.
Are you stressed? To help you unwind before bed, try a hot bath or gentle yoga. Talking to a therapist or taking some time off work may also help.
The bright light from your phone can interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Before going to bed, turn off all electronics.
Old remedies can induce sleepiness. Try drinking herbal tea earlier in the evening or after dinner. Applying lavender essential oil before bed can also help.
Contrary to popular belief, alcohol will not help you fall asleep faster. Even if you are able to fall asleep after drinking, alcohol can lower your quality of sleep.
If your insomnia doesn’t improve, talk to your doctor. They may recommend melatonin or other herbal remedies. In serious cases, your doctor may prescribe sleep medication.
“Can you die from lack of sleep?” is a question insomniacs will wonder when they reach a point of desperation. You won’t die immediately. But if you don’t do something about your insomnia, it can slowly kill you.
By practicing better lifestyle habits now, you can start to sleep better and feel better. Kick the junk food and start packing your diet with these 10 nutritious superfoods.