The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Health

Sleep is just as important as diet and exercise; and a lack of it can lead to accidents, unintentional injuries, and errors. Sleep impacts our health and well-being.  Acquiring the recommended amount of sleep can help one prevent the development of chronic conditions, and those with a chronic condition may be able to better manage it with enough sleep. 1

The Sleep Cycle

The sleep cycle plays a specific role in disease prevention and management.  During stages 3 & 4 the body begins to heal and repair itself.  Blood pressure decreases, blood sugar becomes regulated, tissue is repaired, muscles are built, and the immune system is strengthened. Getting enough of stages 3 & 4 helps to restore your body making you wake up feeling well rested.

The Domino Effect

Sleep deprivation influences our weight, heart health, blood sugar, and mental health. Being sleep deprived can make it hard to manage chronic conditions and causes a domino effect that can lead to chronic conditions.


A lack of sleep affects the hypothalamus which regulates appetite.  When sleep deprived, ghrelin (a hormone that induces hunger) is released in the body and leptin (a hormone that causes feelings of fullness) decreases. Sleep deprivation can also lead to an increase in endocannabinoids, which are substances produced by the body that make food pleasurable.

People who are sleep deprived eat twice as much fat and more than 300 additional calories compared to those who are not.2

Photograph by Steve Buisssinne from Pexels

Heart Health

As previously mentioned, during restorative sleep, your blood pressure decreases. A decrease in blood pressure puts less pressure on blood vessels. However, sleep deprivation causes blood pressure to remain high during long periods of time and can lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure, and stroke.3,4


Since blood sugar is regulated during stages 3 & 4 of sleep, a lack of sleep may lead to a decrease in the amount of insulin (the hormone that removes glucose out of the blood) in the blood stream and increases the amount of cortisol in the body.  The chances of developing type 2 diabetes become greater with sleep deprivation.5

Photograph by Gern Altmann from Pixabay

Depression and Anxiety

Depression and anxiety can lead to sleep deprivation and sleep deprivation can lead to depression and anxiety.  Those who wake frequently during the night are more likely to have clinical depression.  Having a sleep disorder like insomnia and sleep apnea can also impact mental health. Those with insomnia are:

-10 times more likely to have clinical depression

-17 times more likely to have clinical anxiety

While those with sleep apnea are 5 times more likely to suffer from clinical depression.6

Practicing sleep hygiene and relaxation techniques may help you get some much-needed rest. Below is a list of resources that include information on sleep hygiene and relaxation techniques.

Make sure to speak with your healthcare provider if you have trouble sleeping.


National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). Sleep Hygiene. Retrieved from

University of Michigan. (2019). Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation. Retrieved from

Dr. Andrew Weil. (2016). Three Breathing Exercises and Techniques. Retrieved from

Dartmouth University Wellness Center. (n.d.). Guided Audio Recordings. Retrieved from


Hirshkowitz, M. & The National Sleep Foundation. (2015). Sleep Health. Retrieved from

National Sleep Foundation. (2019). Obesity and Sleep. Retrieved from

American Heart Association. (2017). What is Cardiovascular Disease? Retrieved from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Heart Disease Facts. Retrieved from

National Sleep Foundation. (2019). The Link Between a Lack of Sleep and Type 2 Diabetes. Retrieved from

National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). The Complex Relationship Between Sleep, Depression, & Anxiety. Retrieved from

National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). The Complex Relationship Between Sleep, Depression, & Anxiety. Retrieved from


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