There’s no denying how irritating it can be when you have to find a way to get through the day without enough sleep. When you spend all day dreaming of your bed, it can be hard to focus at work or feel motivated to go out with friends. However, not getting enough sleep is more than just an inconvenient annoyance.
Although not getting enough sleep every now and then isn’t cause for concern, feeling tired on a regular basis can actually be downright dangerous.
It Puts You and Others in Danger on the Road
Just because you’re tired doesn’t mean you don’t have plenty to do. Whether it’s going to work, picking up the kids at school, or running errands, it isn’t uncommon for people to drive even though they are tired. Even commercial truck drivers hit the road tired! But, just because everyone does it doesn’t make it safe.
Around 4,000 people die in accidents involving commercial trucks, and many thousands more die in accidents with other vehicles. Countless others survive, but are injured. In many of these cases, sleepiness is to blame.
The fact is, when you’re tired, you’re more likely to close your eyes behind the wheel, not only because you might think it’s okay to rest your eyes at a red light, but also because frequent yawning can cause you to close your eyes. It can be hard to pay attention, which means you may miss your turn, you may have a hard time maintaining your speed, and you may not use your signals the way you should, all of which can contribute to an accident.
You’re More Prone to Accidents
Not only are you more prone to accidents behind the wheel, you are also more prone to accidents of all kinds.
A lack of sleep can affect your balance, which is something we rely on to do nearly everything throughout the day. From walking up stairs to bending over to pick something up on the floor, having a good sense of balance is what keeps us on our feet. When you are sleep deprived, changes in the brain make it difficult to stay upright. That means you’re more likely to trip, fall down the stairs, or slip when you haven’t had enough sleep compared when you have had a full eight hours of shuteye.
Bad Memory and Forgetfulness
Sleep is important for many reasons, but one is the fact that it helps us consolidate memories. If you don’t get enough sleep, and especially if you don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis, you’ll notice you start forgetting things like appointments, items at the grocery store, birthdays, and deadlines at work.
It makes you more likely to forget things in the moment too. When someone tells you something, like their name or something they are hoping you’ll do for them during the day, your brain can’t hang onto it because it’s dealing with the effects of not having enough sleep. Over time, it can impact your job and your closest relationships.
Poor Physical Health
Not getting enough sleep is associated with some serious health consequences, many of which affect your heart. Just a few include:
- Elevated nighttime blood pressure
- Increased risk of coronary heart disease
- Heart failure
- Heart attacks
- Increased risk of heart palpitations
- Increased risk of chest pain
Not getting enough sleep can contribute to the development of diabetes. In addition, because you’re tired, you’re less likely to get enough exercise, which can create a whole other host of long-term health problems.
Poor Mental Health
It’s not just your physical health that suffers when you don’t get enough sleep. Your mental health suffers too.
Chances are, you are familiar with the stress that comes along with trying to make it through the day when you haven’t had enough sleep. You’re more likely to be short-tempered, frazzled, and frustrated by things that would normally roll off your back.
If you continue to get poor sleep at night, you’ll notice that your overall mood and outlook on life becomes negative. You’re much more likely to see the glass as half empty instead of half full, and over time, those prolonged thoughts can turn into depression and anxiety.
Not getting enough sleep every once in a while isn’t uncommon, but if you regularly log less than eight hours each night, you may want to rethink your sleep routine. Otherwise, you could find yourself with a whole host of mental and physical problems.