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Aside from leaving us angry, feeling like a zombie and looking terrible, there are a good few rather scary side effects that can come from lack of sleep. We could suffer from weight gain, possibly develop depression and a whole lot more.

In this article, we’ll take a look at seven scary side effects of sleep deprivation and what you can do to help get yourself some more sleep.

Sleep Deprivation Causes Fatigue and Accidents

The first side effect of sleep is fatigue which, when controlled, is akin to an annoyance, rather than something scary. However, when you undertake your day to day ritual of driving to work, crossing roads or even chopping vegetables in the kitchen, you’re putting yourself at a higher risk of injury or even death.

Studies have shown us irrefutable evidence that being fatigued or tired from consistent lack of sleep can cause us injury and more. With that said, it’s so important to give yourself plenty of wind down time in the evening to get the quality sleep you need to stay safe and healthy throughout the day.

Your Risk of Heart Failure Increases

A little known side effect of sleep deprivation is its ability to dramatically hinder the performance and strength of the heart. After months, or even years of poor sleep you could be looking at a higher risk of heart disease, heart failure and even stroke.

Many reports have shown us that people with sleep disorders such as insomnia, or sleep inhibitors like sleep apnea are more likely to suffer from the diseases mentioned above.

If you believe you have sleep apnea or insomnia, it is resoundingly in your best interests to see a doctor or invest in a CPAP machine from to get you to fall asleep more relaxed and more naturally. Persistent heart problems aren’t worth the risk.

Depression Worsens or Surfaces

Another side effect of sleep deprivation that is often overlooked is depression. Just the simple act of not getting enough sleep can physically promote changes in the brain, lower morale and make someone chronically sad without any other exterior or social issues being present.

As research shows us, insomnia has a more definitive link to depression than just about any other known disorder. Where the bigger issue comes in is that this also works in a cycle, with insomnia being a symptom of depression, and depression being a symptom of insomnia.

However, the good news from this is that the treatment of one can treat the other. Take some time to focus on your wellbeing in the evenings before going to bed and just a few minutes meditating, reflecting and taking a break from the hectic world might be all you need to kickstart recovery.

Your Risks of Dementia Grow

You may already know this firsthand, but lack of sleep causes you to be forgetful. Tack on chronic and long term sleep deprivation and you could be looking at developing Alzheimer’s or dementia later in life.

Studies show us that deep, quality sleep gives our brain the chance to reset, consolidate memories and move information from the hippocampus down to the neocortex. Sleep deprivation will stop this from happening and can lead to physical, degenerative issues within the brain.

Sleep Deprivation Can Drive Obesity

Obesity, in the big scheme of things, is one of the worst issues that a somewhat healthy individual can suffer with because it works to damage all organs of the body. When we lose sleep or are deprived of it for an extended period, our risk of obesity grows. Mostly, losing sleep leads you to gain weight and snowball many other health problems in the process.

The chemicals in the brain that sleep deprivation inhibits or damage are your peptides, which tell us when we’re hungry or full. Issues with these peptides force us into eating far too much and not knowing when to stop, slowly leading us to gain weight over time.

You can be proactive about this and work against your sleep deprivation to eat healthier and fibre filled foods. This pushes back on your feeling of hunger through the day and helps fight off weight gain.

The Ability to Judge Your Performance Falls

One of the more worrying side effects of sleep deprivation is its ability to block you from being able to understand what you’re doing. Think of this as a vicious cycle where you’re feeling weaker and more miserable in regards to work tasks; however, your increased lack of sleep is telling you that you’re doing fine.

In the long term, your judgement is chronically clouded and could result in job loss, traffic accidents, poor lifestyle choices and more. Eventually, this could lead to reduced lifespan — more on that below.

Risk of Early Death Increases

We’ve saved scariest for last. This may seem like an over exaggeration, however, studies show us it isn’t. Your risk of death and reduced lifespan does in fact increase with poor sleep.

A multi-decade study looked into the lives of thousands of civil servants and studied their sleep quality, length of sleep and lifestyles. What the study revealed was staggering. Participants who had reduced their nightly sleeping hours from eight down to five or six had doubled their risk of death of any cause which included stroke, accidents and just about everything else.