What are the consequences of a lack of sleep?

We all know that sleep is important. Sleep is one of the most important necessities of life, yet the consequences of sleep deprivation are still strongly underestimated and many people fail to maintain a healthy sleep pattern. Do you need motivation to go to bed a little earlier tonight (and preferably every night)? We made an overview of the 5 most important consequences of a (prolonged) lack of sleep!

The 5 key consequences of a lack of sleep

1. Weight gain

When we sleep less, we are less capable to suppress our impulses, so it becomes difficult to resist unhealthy food. Your body and brain get energy from sleep and food. When one of them is lacking, the brain automatically craves the other and you are more likely to grab an unhealthy snack or fast food.

Since your body retains more fat when you sleep less than 7 hours, you will also automatically gain weight when you get little sleep!

2. Depression and anxiety disorders

After a night of little sleep, we are all a bit more irritable. However, a prolonged lack of sleep can even turn into depression and/or anxiety disorders.

Why, you ask?

Research has shown that a lack of sleep leads to increased activity in those parts of the brain that are responsible for mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. Sleep deprivation and depression are therefore closely linked, so a lack of sleep triggers depression and vice versa.

3. Low concentration and forgetfulness

You’ve probably already noticed that after a short night, you struggle to concentrate. Sleep has a major influence on your memory and ability to focus. When you sleep too little, you tend to make mistakes faster and have a slower reaction speed. You struggle to remember new information and make long-lasting memories.

You will feel the effect on your ability to concentrate not only at work or school, but also behind the wheel! In fact, many traffic accidents could be avoided with a good night’s sleep.

4. Ageing skin

Research has shown that people who get little sleep are judged to be less healthy and attractive. We all spend a lot of money on creams and beauty treatments, but in reality, it all starts with a good sleep pattern. Your skin needs time to recover at night. If not, you will soon notice the consequences:  

  • Dull, grey and lifeless skin
  • Fine lines and wrinkles: a lack of sleep reduces the body's moisture levels and dehydrates the skin, which results in fine lines
  • Dark circles: these are also the result of dehydrated skin
  • Swelling under the eyes because tired, dry skin retains moisture
  • The skin struggles to recovers from sun damage or other skin irritations

5. Compromised immune system and shortened lifespan

Matthew Walker, author of the book Why We Sleep, summarised it perfectly: “The less you sleep, the less you live.” A lack of sleep significantly increases the risk of health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. There is even a strong link between a lack of sleep and various forms of cancer.

Sleeping too little also impacts your immune system. Your body does not have enough time to fully recover, making it much more susceptible to infections and diseases. Wondering how you can avoid colds? Go to bed early!

Tip: keen to read Matthew Walker's book Why We Sleep? You can borrow it in our Sleepbib - the sleep library, inside our shop!

Any questions or doubts? Feel free to contact us. Our experts will be happy to help you on your way to a blissful night's sleep!