Your cognitive functioning is impaire

Whilst many of the effects of not sleeping enough take years to materialise, this one is felt immediately. Most people are probably familiar with the mentally scrambled feeling that follows a night of bad sleep, and studies have repeatedly shown that sleep deprivation leads to a range of cognitive impairments. Failing to catch enough shut eye leads to impairments in memory, alertness, reaction times and problem solving.

Your libido plummets

Sleep is essential to the proper functioning of your endocrine system, and not getting enough of it can wreak havoc on your hormones. This is bad news for your sex drive. Insufficient sleep causes measurable drops in testosterone, oestrogen and a range of other hormones required for a healthy, functional libido in both women and men, and chronic sleep deprivation is a leading cause of erectile disfunction.

You get heart problems

Not getting enough shut eye every once in a while is unlikely to cause any lasting problems, but making a habit out of it can lead to serious consequences. Regularly getting an insufficient amount of sleep has been show to increase the risk of a number of cardiovascular conditions, including coronary heart disease and hypertension. Over time this increases the likelihood of cardiac arrests and strokes.

You look worse

They don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing. Scientists asked participants in a study to rank a series of subjects by their facial attractiveness. After controlling for differences, the researchers found that people suffering from sleep deprivation were consistently ranked as less attractive. When different groups were shown the same subject after a good night’s sleep, they were ranked as more attractive.

Your cancer risk goes up

Studies done on shift workers who can’t stick to regular sleep schedules found them to have elevated risks of a number of cancers, including breast cancer, colorectal cancer and prostrate cancer. Consistently sleeping for seven hours a night or more significantly reduced the risks of these diseases. It’s important to note that even though the studies primarily involved shift workers, the findings apply to everyone.

You pack on the pounds

If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to shed some weight, you should pay attention to your bedroom habits as well as your diet and exercise regimen. Studies have found a direct link between sleeping less than seven hours a night and obesity, with the effect worsening as the amount of sleep decreased. Whilst the mechanisms at play are still debated, there’s no doubt that regularly getting less than eight hours of sleep will lead to an expanding waistline.

You get ill

When you don’t get enough sleep, all of your body’s processes are impaired. That includes your immune system. Researchers have discovered an inverse relationship between getting enough sleep and getting sick more often, with employees who regularly don’t get eight hours a night taking more sick days at work. In other words, the less you sleep, the more colds and flu you’ll end up catching.

Your diabetes risk goes up

Regularly sleeping too little has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes, both in children and adults. This is partially due to the increased risk of obesity that comes with insufficient sleep, although researchers believe that insulin sensitivity may also be affected. Interestingly, sleeping too much has been linked to the same outcome.

You become overly emotional

Most people are intimately familiar with the emotional effects of a bad night’s sleep. Not getting enough rest leaves you irritable, moody and can exacerbate feelings of depression or anxiety. Worse, the ability to regulate your behaviour also worsens with insufficient sleep, meaning you’re more likely to lash out over trivial matters.

Your risk of an accident skyrockets

Sleep deprivation can lead to episodes of micro sleep. During these episodes, your brain will literally fall asleep for several seconds before you wake up, never even realising anything has happened. Micro sleep most commonly occurs during repetitive, monotonous activities – such as driving. It’s estimated that thousands of fatal collisions each year are the direct result of this phenomenon.