A lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep can affect not only your level of tiredness and sour your mood the next day, but can also have both acute and long-lasting effects on your body and brain. Here, we will discuss some of these effects and what you can do to improve your sleep, and thereby your health.

Effects on the Brain

A chronic lack of sleep is associated with various effects on the brain. These include increased forgetfulness and impaired attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning and problem solving skills, which in turn can result in problems processing information and learning. This is why it is particularly important that children and adolescents have good sleeping habits.

Moreover, several studies have shown that sleep deprivation is a major cause of both traffic and occupational accidents as a result of impaired judgement and slower reflexes, and these types of injuries can have substantial effects on your body. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that about 100,000 traffic accidents occur in the U.S. each year as a result of sleep deprivation, with more than 1,500 traffic accident deaths accredited to a lack of sleep.

Furthermore, chronic lack of sleep is also associated with increased stress and risks of depression and anxiety as well as with an overall decline in mental well-being and quality of life.

Effects on the Body

In addition to the brain, a lack of sleep can negatively affect most other systems in your body and lead to numerous health issues. Cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, heart failure and high blood pressure as well as diabetes and stroke are all more common is sleep-deprived subjects. Moreover, a lack of sleep is known to result in impaired immune function, making you more susceptible to colds and other infections. Other side effects of sleep deprivation include reduced sex drive and fertility (both for women and men), poor skin quality, including the development of fine lines and dark circles under the eyes, and weight gain.

Some of these conditions, such as weight gain and obesity, can in turn lead to worsening or induction of further health effects like cardiovascular disorders and diabetes. Also, restless legs in the middle of the night, resulting in lack of sleep, can be caused by venous disease. Some studies have also shown that a lack of sleep may be associated with a shorter life span, truly emphasizing just how important it is to establish a good, regular sleeping routine.

How To Improve Your Sleep Pattern

If you are suffering from restless legs in the night, our vein specialists recommend an ultrasound study to rule out vein disorders.

If you are chronically sleep deprived, there is only one effective way to compensate for this: by getting more sleep. This can’t be achieved by simply going to bed early one or two nights but may take several weeks to achieve. The best way to slowly increase your sleep is by trying to add one or two extra hours a night and by avoiding quick fixes such as coffee or energy drinks as these will only increase your energy and alertness temporarily and can disturb your sleeping routine. Of course, too much sleep is also not ideal. More than nine or 10 hours every night can potentially result in poor sleep quality.