Do you wake up in the middle of the night?  Do you hit snooze every morning?  Do you rely on coffee and other forms of caffeine to get you through the morning?  If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then you are not getting enough sleep.

How is sleep deprivation affecting your life?

Cognitive Abilities

We all remember being so sleep deprived that we get giggly or punchy at the slightest stimulus in our environment.  This is an extreme example of our cognitive abilities degrading due to lack of sleep.  In fact, studies show that during shifts in daylight savings time, vehicle accidents increase.  This shows that even the slightest disturbance in our circadian rhythm can have real effects on our day to day decision making.

Accelerated Aging

A study done on 60 women between the ages of 30 and 49 revealed that sleep deprivation accelerated aging and made the skin less able to recover from stresses like UV light exposure.

“Using the SCINEXA skin aging scoring system, poor quality sleepers showed increased signs of intrinsic skin aging including fine lines, uneven pigmentation and slackening of skin and reduced elasticity.”

University Hospitals Case Medical Center. “Sleep deprivation linked to aging skin, study suggests.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130723155002.htm>.

If sleep deprivation affects our bodies at the surface, how is it affecting what is under the surface?

Hormonal Effects

Lack of sleep has been shown to increase cortisol levels.  Cortisol is a stress hormone that can have nasty effects on the human body if levels are elevated for extended periods of time.  One effect of high cortisol levels is a reduction in the production of testosterone in men.  Studies have directly correlated sleep deprivation in men with lower testosterone levels.  What does low testosterone mean for the guys out there?  Some affects include low energy levels, low sex drive, muscle loss, increased body fat, and decreased bone density.

How much sleep do you get per night?  What affects do you see regarding sleep deprivation?  What do you do to improve your sleep quality?  Be sure to share in the comments section!