Many people sleep too little on a regular basis, although sufficient sleep is important for our daily performance and a healthy everyday life. But what really happens when we permanently sleep too little? Find out here how sleep deprivation can affect our bodies and what a persistent lack of sleep means for our health.
Table of contents
- Too little sleep
- What does sleep deprivation mean?
- Consequences of too little sleep
- Effects on the psyche
- Effects on the body
- Noise & sounds
- Consequences of sleep deprivation at a glance
- Preventing sleep deprivation
Too little sleep
More and more people are sleeping too little and neglecting their night's sleep in favour of work or social commitments. Experts generally recommend that adults get a regular sleep duration of about 7 - 8 hours. The results of a sleep study by the Techniker Krankenkasse show that this amount of sleep is rarely achieved nowadays. Every second German regularly sleeps less than six hours a day. And this despite the fact that sufficient and restorative sleep is of great importance, especially in an increasingly stressful everyday life.
What does lack of sleep mean?
Sleep is the central recovery period for our body and should therefore never be too short. Numerous repair and recovery processes take place during sleep. The immune system runs at full speed, we process experiences and information and also gather new energy for the next day. Night after night we go through several sleep cycles, which in turn are divided into different sleep phases. You can read about what exactly happens during sleep here. Nights that are too short or frequent sleep interruptions can disturb the natural course of our sleep and the regeneration processes that take place. In order for us to wake up refreshed in the morning and be able to cope with our daily lives in a healthy and efficient manner, regular sleep duration is of great importance. The good news is that short-term sleep deprivation can be compensated for and missing sleep can be made up for. However, those who permanently shorten their sleep and do not meet their individual sleep requirements not only endanger their daily well-being in the long term, but also harm their own health.
Consequences of too little sleep
Lack of sleep prevents the body and mind from regenerating sufficiently. In the long term in particular, this has numerous negative consequences.
Effects on the psyche
Reduced brain and memory performance
During sleep, our brain processes the experiences of the day and transfers relevant information to the long-term memory. Even an acute lack of sleep leads to a reduction in these so-called neurocognitive functions, causing the brain to react less well to external stimuli, deteriorating memory and weakening the ability to pay attention while awake.
Decreasing Stress Resistance & Mood Swings
Lack of sleep promotes the release of the "stress hormone" cortisol, so our brains are put under additional strain and overall stress resistance is decreased. We feel increasingly stressed, are more irritable, suffer from mood swings and find it difficult to relax.
Effects on the body
Disturbed metabolism and hormone balance
Inadequate sleep disrupts the metabolic processes that are crucial for nocturnal regeneration. The renewal and building of new cells in muscles, skin and other tissues is disturbed by the negative effect on the release of important growth hormones. In addition, the energy stores in the muscles and brain cannot be completely replenished. The blood sugar level is also negatively affected by a persistent lack of sleep, thus increasing the risk of obesity or diabetes.
Weakening of the immune system
During sleep, the number of natural defence cells in the body increases, harmful substances are removed and the body's cells are repaired and renewed. Studies show that even a single sleep deficit of three hours impairs the function of the immune cells. Those who sleep too little therefore weaken the development of a strong immune system and are more susceptible to infections and diseases.
Increased risk of cardiovascular diseases
Even a slight regular sleep deficit of one to two hours per night puts the body in a state of stress. Cortisol levels rise and put our body on alert, increasing heart rate and blood pressure. This puts additional stress on the cardiovascular system and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke in the long term.
Consequences of sleep deprivation at a glance
Reduction in cognitive performance and the ability to concentrate
Decreased memory performance
Mood swings & irritability
Reduced physical performance
Weakened immune system
Increased risk of disease, e.g. diabetes, cardiovascular diseases
Preventing sleep deprivation
Because we can easily compensate for a slight sleep deficit and catch up on sleep, a short night or two is usually not a problem. A regular lack of sleep, on the other hand, leads to the body repeatedly not being able to regenerate sufficiently. In this way, we lose our efficiency bit by bit, affect our well-being and damage our health.
Various reasons can lead to neglecting our sleep and not being able to meet our individual need for sleep. In order to master your everyday life without any problems and to maintain your health and performance, you should try not to give up sleep permanently for professional or social reasons. In this article you will find out how you can improve your sleep in the long term.
Caution: If sleep disorders or health problems are the reason for a permanent sleep deficit, you should always seek medical advice.
Every second German sleeps too little on a regular basis - and the trend is rising.
A lack of sleep impairs physical and mental performance and is detrimental to health and well-being.
Too little sleep weakens the immune system and increases susceptibility to illnesses, infections, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Best regards and see you soon!