What are the effects of sleep deprivation on the body?
Well, there are many different effects. Firstly, we know that sleep deprivation affects the reproduction system. We also know that men who are just sleeping five to six hours a night have a level of testosterone which is that of someone ten years their senior. Lack of sleep will age you by almost a decade in terms of that aspect of virility and wellness.
We also know that a lack of sleep impacts your immune system. So after just one night of four to five hours of sleep, there is a 70% reduction in critical anti-cancer fighting immune cells called natural killer cells.
And that is the reason that we know, that short sleep duration predicts your risk for developing numerous forms of cancer. The list currently includes cancer of the bowel, cancer of the prostate, as well as cancer of the breast.
In fact, the link between a lack of sleep and cancer is now so strong that recently the World Health Organization decided to classify any form of nighttime shift work as a probable carcinogen.
In other words, jobs that may induce cancer because of a disruption of your sleep rate rhythms.
We also know that a lack of sleep impacts your cardiovascular system because it is during deep sleep at night that you receive this most wonderful form of effectively blood pressure medication.
Your heart rate drops, your blood pressure goes down. If you are not getting sufficient sleep, you are not getting that reboot of the cardiovascular system, so your blood pressure rises.
You have, if you are getting six hours of sleep or less, a two hundred percent increase risk of having a fatal heart attack or stroke in your life time.
There is a global experiment that is performed on 1.6 billion people twice a year and is called Daylight Saving Time. And we know that in the spring, when we lose one hour of sleep, we see a subsequent 24% increase in heart attacks the following day.
Another question, perhaps, is what is the recycle rate of a human being? How long can we actually last without sleep before we start to see declines in your brain function or even impairments within your body?
And the answer seems to be about 16 hours of wakefulness. Once you get past 16 hours of being awake, that’s when we start to see mental deterioration and physiological deterioration in the body.
We know that after you have been awake for 19 or 20 hours, your mental capacity is so impaired that you would be as deficient as someone who is legally drunk behind the wheel of a car.
So if you were to ask me what is the recycle rate of a human being, it does seem to be about 16 hours and we need about 8 hours of sleep to repair the damage of wakefulness. Wakefulness essentially is low-level brain damage.
Reference: Prof. Agyeman Badu Akosa, Prof. M. Walker, Dr. B.S. Van Der Kolk.
By Ekow Grimmond Thompson