The quantity and quality of sleep forms the baseline to any healthy lifestyle. It gives the body an opportunity to recuperate, rejuvenate, and complete important nightly cycles. Rest provides the body with energy, focus, and improved cognitive function. If you’ve slept right, you should be greeting the morning feeling fantastic.
So then, flipping this on its head, what happens if you don’t get enough sleep?
We’re all familiar with the ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ movie franchise, where the devilish, metal-clawed Freddy Krueger picks off a group of sleepless small town teens one by one as they avoid dipping into their dreaded dreams. Throughout many versions of the films, we see the full force of sleep deprivation tinged with Hollywood magic, but such experiences aren’t just limited to the silver screen. Indeed, the effects of not getting enough sleep would give even our fearsome foe Freddy a fright!
Here’s What Happens to the Body After 1 Day of Sleep Deprivation:
Picture this. It’s 8am and you’ve just had a terrible night’s sleep. The sun is shining, but you certainly aren’t. This luckily isn’t a common occurrence for you, but nonetheless, you feel terribly tired. Here’s what to expect during the day ahead:
Although this may seem like an obvious side effect of short-term sleep deprivation, the full force of fatigue is not to be forgotten. This aspect of tiredness will spread itself throughout both your body and mind.
You’ll feel physically tired, unable to partake in the likes of exercise or seemingly ordinary day-to-day activities. Everything will feel like a strain, each movement feeling like a movement too far.
Your mental capacity will also likely follow this suit, and your ability to process information will feel far from its best.
Staying on this notion of mental fatigue, there are lots of ways in which this experience manifests itself.
First and foremost, you’ll be slightly on edge and more impatient than usual. If we were to take a scan of the brain during this state, we would see a strong change in the area of the brain known as the amygdala, which itself is apart of the wider limbic system - the system that controls our primal and instinctive emotions; including the ‘flight or fight’ response.
When the amygdala is pushed to high alert by sleep deprivation, it’ll cause you to act irrationally, even to the most minor of inconveniences.
3. Lack of Attention and Focus
In very much the same way that getting enough sleep boosts your concentration levels, sleep deprivation compromises your alertness. What is gained through good sleep can equally be lost through the experience of a bad night.
Biologically, this is because starving the body of much-needed rest interferes with an area of the brain called the temporal lobe; an area that’s largely responsible for your rate of visual perception and recall ability.
It prevents the neurones in this area from speaking to each other effectively, which ultimately results in lack of attention and focus. So don’t be surprised if you fall asleep in class!
Well, you’re back in bed after a long and arduous day of feeling dreadfully tired. As we mentioned before, a bad night’s sleep isn’t a common experience for you, and tonight, you’ll probably be sleeping like a baby. But what if you didn’t go to sleep? What if, instead of getting your head down for 8 hours of glorious shut-eye, you just continued through this tangled, sleepless nightmare?
Here’s What Happens to the Body After 3 Days of Sleep Deprivation:
Tallying 3 days of no sleep? All we can guess is that either you’re a real daredevil, or trapped under a crushing schedule. However you’re feeling in your mind about your situation, it’s unlikely that your body will be equally as positive about the experience. So, what can you expect?
By day 3, it’s extremely likely that you’ll be suffering from a condition known as microsleep. This is a natural phenomenon whereby the brain is forced to compensate for its sleep starvation by switching rapidly between states of being awake and being asleep.
These periods are typically very short, and last no longer than 30 seconds, although they’ll be pretty frequent by this time. You may appear to be perfectly awake during an episode of microsleep; your eyes may even remain open. But instead, this will be more of a ‘lights on, nobody home’ kind of situation. And worse yet, microsleep can strike at any time, like for example whilst driving. Although heaven forbid you’d be operating a car in such a state.
2. Extreme Fatigue
The fatigue you experienced on day 1 will pale into insignificance to how you can expect to feel on day 3. By this time, it’s more than certain that your physical ability will be blown to bits, and the strain your muscles will be feeling from the build-up of lactic acid will be quite hard to ignore. Pretty much any amount of function you might hope to have will be gone.
Day 3 is when the more serious side effects of sleep deprivation arrive, and amongst them will be a notable rise in inflammation.
Inflammation is closely linked with the experience of chronic physical pain, and when we deprive the body of sleep, we compromise the opportunity for the brain to release healing endorphins into the system that work to combat such inflammation. Because it’s so closely tied with the onset of pain, a rise in inflammation can turn into a vicious cycle of endless sleepless nights that’s even more difficult to treat.
Remember that temporal lobe we mentioned before, and how we said that it controls your visual perception? Well after 3 days of experienced sleep deprivation, that region of the brain will be in serious, serious overdrive. Because of this, your perception of the world around you will become extremely warped, resulting in the presence of all-too-visual hallucinations.
This experience is as dangerous as it is frightening, and could result in you being totally unaware of your actions or their true consequences.
Ok, well surely after 3 sleepless nights, you’d be ready for a good rest, right? Wrong! We’re going all the way here, and not even your worst nightmares could prepare you for what 7 whole days of no sleep has in store for you.
Here’s What Happens to the Body After 7 Days of Sleep Deprivation:
1. Unshakable Urge to Sleep
By now, you’ll be practically begging for your bed. All you’ll be able to think about is how tired you are, how delirious you’ve become, and how much you want to give in. This feeling will come with a complete lack of function. Going anywhere, or carrying out your daily routine, will become almost impossible. Your attention span will be extremely limited, and your decision-making ability will run equally as short. Most will struggle to stay awake in this state on their own.
2. Mental Deterioration
One of the worst things about long-term sleep deprivation is its ability to mimic certain qualities of severe mental illnesses. This is to say that although you might not be diagnosed with a particular mental illness, the byproducts of sleep deprivation and insomnia are able to appear similar to that of such prognoses. Qualities akin to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychosis, paranoia, and/or depression all pose a very real and very serious threat to you at this stage.
3. Possible Organ Failure
Lack of sleep influences the organs in many different ways, but none more so than in the heart and liver. It’s difficult to overstress the heart’s importance to your health.
Periods of non-rapid eye movement during sleep give the heart the chance to decrease blood pressure, slow your heart rate. This takes stress off the heart, and allows it to repair.
After 7 days of no sleep, this process will be failing, and your glucose and cholesterol levels will be through the roof. The likelihood of you suffering a stroke, heart attack, or even heart failure, is significantly increased. And it’s not a pretty picture when looking to your liver either.
During the same restorative phase of the night when the heart’s busy getting healthy, the liver’s even busier processing glucose and releasing insulin for energy. Without this process being allowed to happen regularly, you’re increasing the rise of metabolic diseases like hepatic steatosis and diabetes.
7+ days without sleep is definitely not a fun place to be, and the important processes that take place throughout the night are not to be missed or messed with. It’s so, so important to your health, and we hope we’ve been able to explain that clearly here. Just remember, if you’re skipping sleep, running into Freddy Krueger will be the least of your worries!
How Can These Symptoms Be Treated?
Well the good news after all that is that the symptoms of sleep deprivation can be easily remedied with a good night’s rest. And there are plenty of things you can do to make sure your night is the very best it can be; after all, investing in your sleep is investing in your health.
We always love to recommend this Lavender-infused Pillow Spray. This spray perfectly induces a deep sense of calm and relaxation right before bedtime, and it’s all down to the heavenly, soothing scent of the linalool-packed lavender. Nothing better for helping your sleepy system to drift off into your dreams.
If light’s something that’s disturbing your night, these 3D Contoured Blackout Sleep Masks work absolute wonders at blocking out those stray rays. They seal completely around the eyes, and are super eyelash-friendly too; so no waking up to broken lashes in the morning!
Adding variety to your daily schedule is really good for sleep quality too, because it pushes your body and mind into tiredness. Honestly, one of the best pieces of advice we were ever given was that if you’re suffering from insomnia, make yourself as busy and active during the daylight hours as possible.
Exercise is a wonderful way to do this, and garners so many additional health benefits in the process.
To learn more about exercise’s beneficial relationship with sleep, visit our SMUG Active range here: https://sleepsmug.com/collections/active
Visit our full carefully-cultivated collection of dreamy sleep products here: www.sleepsmug.com/collections/sleep
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