7 Ways Being Sleep Deprived for One Night Affects Your Body
These changes to your mind and body can occur after a single night of inadequate sleep.
If you have a hard time dozing off after getting in bed or spend all night tossing and turning due to stress, you are one of the many people across the country getting an inadequate amount of sleep. In fact, according to a 2016 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on any given night, one in three adults in the U.S. gets less than the recommended minimum of seven hours of sleep—putting them at risk for side effects that can have a profound impact on both their physical and mental well-being. With the help of sleep specialists, we've rounded up seven ways being sleep deprived for one night can affect your health.
Increases your sensitivity to pain
If you wake up feeling sore and achy after not getting enough of sleep, it's unlikely this is merely a coincidence.
"If you miss a day of sleep, or several of them, you will be more sensitive to pain," says Shuhan He, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. This is due to the changes it causes in how your brain receives and processes the information it's being sent when your body is in pain. And just one night of sleep deprivation can lower your pain threshold by more than 15 percent, The New York Times reports.
Inhibits your ability to concentrate
Feeling like you're not performing as effectively at work as you usually do? That night of poor sleep could be the reason why.
"During sleep, our brain restores all of its functions and it also stores the new information and skills that you've learned throughout the day," explains He, who notes that that a lack of sleep can result in poor concentration at work.
And limits your memory function
In addition to impacting your concentration, lack of sleep makes it harder to remember things.
"Memories are formed and reinforced during sleep," says licensed acupuncturist Jamie Bacharach. When this process is not given the opportunity to take place properly due to lack of sleep, it can limit the capabilities of your short- and long-term memory, she says.
Causes you to eat impulsively
Pulling just a single all-nighter can lead to serious food cravings before you know it.
"A lack of sleep wrecks the balance between leptin and ghrelin, our satiety and hunger hormones," says Alex Savy, a certified sleep science coach and founder of SleepingOcean.com. And just one night of unrest can cause leptin levels to drop, increasing the likelihood that you'll make more impulsive eating decisions than you normally would—specifically when it comes to sugary foods.
Lowers your sex drive
If you're concerned about your sex drive dwindling, then make a good night's rest a priority. That's because burning the midnight oil is a surefire way to not get you in the mood.
"Because sleep shortage is perceived as a stress factor, your body may increase the production of stress hormones, thereby suppressing the production of sex hormones," says Savy.
Makes you more irritable
A short night of sleep and short fuse frequently go hand-in-hand, says certified sleep science coach Liz Brown, founder of Sleeping Lucid.
"Lack of sleep—which helps keep your emotional health in check—messes with hormones that affect your mood, making you easily irritated and annoyed," she says.
Decreases your hand-eye coordination
If you spent the night tossing and turning, you might find that you're feeling a little clumsier for it the following day.
"Decreased hand-eye coordination can be a risk" that is increased by lack of sleep says Carolyn Burke, a writer and sleep expert at The Sleep Advisor. She also cautions that this side effect may also increase your risk of physical injury. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 83,000 car crashes each year are attributable to fatigued drivers, and a 2014 study published in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics suggests that tiredness is associated with a greater risk of injury among student athletes.