ABC Medical Center > Digital magazine > Lack of sleep can affect your body and mind

Lack of sleep can affect your body and mind

16 September 2022

A senior man experiencing stuffy nose, clogged sinuses and headache of a bad flu or cold

Key points:

  • Cognitive processes in attention, concentration, and memory will be altered in case of not getting enough sleep.
  • Some cases of obesity have been related to lack of sleep.
  • Microsleeps are extremely dangerous for both the individual and those around them.

Sleep is fundamental to achieving a good quality of life, so poor or little sleep will have a direct impact on our body, as well as on the central nervous system and even on your attention and concentration.

Dr. Paul Shkurovich Bialik, a neurologist at ABC Medical Center, says that sleeping irregularly for long periods carries significant health risks.

One issue that has been detected through different studies is that brain volumes are smaller in those people who sleep less than six hours during several consecutive nights. Shrinking that particularly affects the hippocampus, an important structure for memory consolidation and learning, affecting intellectual capacity.

The cognitive processes focused on attention, concentration, and memory, are altered in people who fail to sleep recurrently between seven and eight hours as they are tired or desperate.

On the other hand, says Dr. Shkurovich, the mood is also dramatically affected because not sleeping well can trigger irritability, depression, or anxiety; being a bidirectional relationship where the affective disorder compromises the quality of sleep and vice versa.

Lack of sleep is particularly severe on a metabolic level. Frequently, people who do not sleep or do not get enough sleep are overweight or obese due to an imbalance in the substances that are released at this stage of the day. An example of this is the lack of leptin, a substance necessary to suppress appetite; or the increase in ghrelin, the satiety hormone. While insulin levels, which should be released continuously during the night, will be insufficient to control sugar levels in the body.

Sleeping the right hours is as important for our body as eating a balanced diet or performing physical activity, since, among sleep’s functions, is keeping the immune, cardiovascular, metabolic, and neurological systems in balance.1

Other risks that the body has after long periods of not sleeping or not sleeping well are a greater possibility of suffering from infectious diseases because the maturation of the immune system depends on achieving a continuous, regular, and deep sleep; risk of dangerous cardiorespiratory diseases; and decreased sexual function due to a drop in sexual desire in women and a decrease in hormones such as testosterone in men.

Additionally, it is important to mention the increased risk of accidents. Not sleeping well can lead to episodes of nodding off, known as microsleep, which are extremely dangerous when driving a vehicle or using machinery and tools; situations that can result in the death of the person or even of people around them.

There will be different bodily changes in case the lack of sleep lasts several days or a few weeks and the body will begin to feel that it needs more sleep to be healthy.

At the ABC Medical Center’s Neurology Center we can provide you with specialized care. Contact us!

Paul Shkurovich Bialik Specialist neurologist at the ABC Medical Center

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