Are you not getting enough sleep lately? Not just the total hours of sleep, but quality sleep that includes the deep levels of N3 and REM stages? While in the short term you may notice that you’re feeling more fatigued, have trouble concentrating or just feel “out of it,” there are severe effects of sleep deprivation for your body if you’re going for long periods without getting enough quality sleep. This is especially true for people living with sleep apnea or other sleep breathing disorders.

Statistics reveal that those who are sleep deprived not only feel tired during the day, but also have other serious health concerns, including a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, congestive heart failure and even dementia. We’ve compiled five facts about consistently not getting enough sleep that may surprise you.

Your life expectancy is shortened. In a study, British researchers found that getting fewer than five hours of sleep regularly can double your risk of cardiovascular disease, which is the No. 1 cause of death in America, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

You’ll gain weight. Not getting enough sleep can cause your body to improperly manage glucose (blood sugar). When this happens, you end up gaining weight. Studies have shown that individuals who sleep fewer than six hours a night had a 30 percent higher chance of becoming obese than those who slept six to nine hours. One theory about this is that leptin, a hormone that makes you feel full and regulates fat storage, is lower in those who routinely sleep five hours or fewer per night. Also, getting less sleep raises ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates hunger, so you end up eating more food throughout the day.

Another factor is the stress hormone cortisol, which promotes weight gain. When there is an apnea event, which occurs when the airway is completely closed off for at least 10 seconds or more, the body struggles to get air. The diaphragm makes a strong effort to breath, but the collapsed airway prevents air from coming in. The heart rate goes up, oxygen level drops, and the carbon dioxide level goes up enough for the brain to awaken you enough to take a breath. All that is stressful for the body, which releases cortisol.

You forget things. Getting less sleep makes you more forgetful because getting insufficient sleep three days in a row can result in damaged or dead brain cells. Memory consolidation where short-term memory is converted into long-term memory happens during the REM stage of sleep. If your sleep is disturbed due to arousal resulting from airway collapse, then REM stage is not achieved. Also, during deep N3 sleep, the brain cells literally shrink a little allowing for pathways to clear out the byproducts – like a plumbing system flushing out debris. This means the brain cannot remove the plaque-forming proteins called beta amyloid that has been linked to Alzheimer’s and dementia.

You look older. Sleep deprivation makes you look older faster because a lack of sleep translates to a reduction in human growth hormone production, which you need to stay looking youthful. Growth hormone is secreted during the deep N3 sleep stage. When you sleep, it gives your body a chance to repair itself and thickens your skin.

You get sick more frequently. When you’re missing too much sleep, your immune system wears down, which makes it harder for your body to fight off germs like viruses and bacteria.

Do you need more sleep? Call Dr. Raman to find out how sleep apnea is preventing you from living your best and healthiest life. Call (816) 436-4422 today to schedule your consultation.