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    After a sleepless night, you know you’ll feel sleepy and have little energy for the tasks of the day and may feel cranky, irritable, and blue. But there’s more going on. In fact, sleep plays a role in maintaining the health of most every part of your body. Read >>
Health and Fitness News

Signs You’re Sleep Deprived

How to tell when your body is begging for more shut-eye.

Sleep provides an opportunity for body systems to rest and repair in preparation for the next day, and the average adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimal functioning.

Unfortunately, a new baby in the house, working the night shift, or sleep disorders can all ruin your ability to sleep well. A late night or early morning every once in a while shouldn’t be cause for concern, as your body can make up for it. However, if you regularly skimp on sleep, it can wreak havoc on your mind and body, leaving you with all sorts of consequences.

After a sleepless night, you know you’ll feel sleepy and have little energy for the tasks of the day. You also know you’re more likely to feel cranky, irritable, and blue. You also know it won’t be easy to concentrate. But there’s a lot more going on that you can’t see. In fact, sleep plays a role in maintaining the health of most every part of your body.

Here’s what happens to your body’s most vital systems when you gift short shrift to sleep.

Immune System

Sleep is necessary to give your immune system time to prepare for action. As you sleep, your immune system is hard at work, producing the substances necessary for fighting infection and foreign invaders. Without enough sleep, your immune system falls behind in these tasks. When this happens, the immune system has a reduced ability to protect against disease and illness, putting you at an increased risk for viruses and chronic diseases. And when sickness does strike, your sleep-deprived body will take longer to heal.

Central Nervous System

Your brain is also affected by the amount of sleep you get. Without enough rest, the ability of your mind to process and send information suffers. While you sleep, nerve cells in your brain form connections to store memories. A tired brain means you’ll have trouble learning, making decisions, and concentrating. Nerve signals may slow, making you clumsy and uncoordinated. On to of that, a lack of sleep affects your mental health, making you more likely to be emotional, moody, anxious, depressed, paranoid, or suicidal. Extreme sleep deprivation can even cause hallucinations.

Digestive System

Someone who consistently gets less than seven hours of sleep each night is more likely to be overweight. Without sufficient sleep, your body slows the production of leptin (a hormone that signals when you’re full) and increases production of ghrelin (a hormone that stimulates your appetite). On top of that, more insulin is produced when you’re low on sleep, putting you at risk for weight gain and type 2 diabetes.

Cardiovascular System

During sleep, the heart gets much-needed rest and your blood vessels have a chance to repair damage. Sleep is also helpful in protecting against high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and inflammation—three major risk factors for heart disease. The connection between sleep and your cardiovascular system is so strong that insomnia is strongly linked to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and an irregular heartbeat.

Endocrine System

Endocrine glands are responsible for making hormones, those tiny chemical messengers that travel through the blood and affect your metabolism, mood, growth, development, reproduction, and sexual function. Want to keep those hormones under control and pumped out at the right rate? Better get plenty of sleep. A lack of sleep may especially affect production of the human growth hormone in children and adolescents. These hormones are responsible for building and repairing muscle, skin, and bone.