5 Little Things That Happen When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep

by Sarah Bunton

Most people would agree that getting plenty of sleep would be ideal, but not everyone has the luxury of getting a full eight hours each night. Whether you have a newborn with colic or you just struggle to find enough time for rest, there are probably plenty of signs you aren’t getting enough sleep. Yet, if you’re a mom like me or just a generally busy person, you’re quick to brush off advice even when you’re fighting a marathon of yawns after a long day of chasing an energetic toddler around. But what happens when you don’t sleep enough?

Yes, there’s the obvious yawning and need for caffeine that occur when you’re short on shut eye. A lack of sleep, however, can affect every aspect of health, from the physical to the psychological. And imaging the toll it takes if you have insomnia? According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 30 percent of adults suffer from insomnia, which can cause anxiety, mood disorders, and nausea.

So it’s no wonder that most parents would love to find a magical hack to sleep better or ways to get to sleep faster. Running on low amounts of sleep isn’t fun for anyone, but you might be surprised just how many crazy effects not getting adequate rest can actually have on you. Check out these top things that occur when you’re not sleeping enough.


You Get More Stressed

If you're getting less than the traditional seven to nine hours of sleep a night, then you're putting yourself at risk for experiencing higher levels of stress. According to a study from the American Psychological Association (APA), forty-five percent of adults who sleep less than eight hours a night report feeling stressed.

What's even worse is that the occurrence of stress in connection with a lack of sleep can actually create an endless pattern. You're stressed because you're not getting enough sleep; then your stress prevents you from falling and/or staying asleep. The APA calls this The Sleep-Stress Cycle and it's a very real result of sleeping less.


It Can Cause Inflammation

You know how after a bad night's sleep you can wake up feeling super achy? Or how sometimes you can't shake body pain when you're low on sleep? Turns out it's not all in your head.

David Rapoport, director of NYU's Sleep Disorder Program, shared with Health magazine that those who get six or fewer hours of sleep a night have higher levels of the inflammatory causing C-reactive protein in their blood. And inflammation can cause sore joints and pain throughout the body.


Your Personality Takes A Hit

Sure, everyone can be a little grumpy before they've had their first cup of coffee. But the effects of not sleeping enough go way beyond your relationship with caffeine. Your mood can actually change due to a lack of sleep.

Harvard neurologists Monika Haack and Janet Mullington conducted a study where participants were assigned to sleep either four or eight hours for twelve nights straight. Those who slept less than eight hours reportes lower levels of optimism and felt less social. These mood and personality changes only increased over the course of the study. So maybe what you're brushing off as just a jonesing for a Starbuck's fix is really because you're not sleeping enough.


Romantic Troubles Can Increase

When you're feeling tired, you're probably not the most loving and sensitive person to be around. I know that when I've had a sleepless night I'm definitely short and on edge with my partner.

Physicians Amie Gordon and Serena Chen, from The Institute of Personality and Social Research at the University of California, found that relationships where one person is not getting enough sleep can experience more conflicts. Their study also showed that sleeping less than eight hours decreased individual's ability to resolve conflicts and were more likely to exhibit negative emotions.


You Can't Focus

Research from The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School showed that not sleeping enough has a direct and negative impact on your cognitive ability. The brain's prefrontal cortex (PFC), which controls attention, memory and concentration, is highly affected by a lack of sleep. Basically, no sleep = no focus

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