Why is sleep so important, well you need sleep as much as you need to breathe and eat as whilse you are sleeping many things are happening, your body is busy tending to your physical and mental health and getting you ready for another day. For instance while you’re asleep your immune system produces protective and infection-fighting antibodies and cells and uses these to fight off foreign substances like bacteria and viruses and gives you more energy to defend against illness. Without this boost to your immune system it’s more likely that your body won’t be able to fight off these viruses and it may also take you longer to recover from illness. Long-term sleep deprivation raises your risk of developing chronic illnesses like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

While you are sleeping your body is also producing proteins that help cells repair damage. In children and adolescents, hormones that promote growth are released during sleep. These hormones help build muscle mass, as well as make repairs to cells and tissues.

Also when you’re sleeping the brain rests busy neurones and forms new pathways so you’re ready to face the world in the morning. In children and young adults, the brain releases growth hormones during sleep. When you’re deprived of sleep, your brain can’t function properly, affecting your ability to concentrate and make decisions, even your balance and coordination. Your emotional state can be affected and you’ll more likely to have mood swings and be short tempered. Your risk of injury and accidents at home, work and on the road also increases due to your tiredness.

When you’re sleep deprived, the effects of alcohol consumption are magnified, as is your risk of being involved in an accident. Studies have shown that sleeping less than five hours a night increases the risk of death from all causes by about 15 percent.

A few studies have found a link between lack of sleeping and weight gain, not sleeping enough can boost hunger. Sleep deprivation increases production of the stress hormone cortisol. Lack of sleep lowers your levels of a hormone called leptin, which tells your brain that you’ve had enough to eat, and in addition, it raises levels of a biochemical called ghrelin, which is an appetite stimulant. Many publications had already linked a lack of sleep to overeating and poor food choices, there seems to be an increase in the consumption of high fat and sugary foods. Sleep deprivation prompts your body to release higher levels of insulin after you eat, promoting fat storage and increasing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Along with eating too much and not exercising, sleep deprivation is one of the risk factors for obesity.

An occasional night without sleep makes you feel tired and irritable the next day, but it won’t harm your health, but after several sleepless nights, the mental effects become more serious. Most of us need around eight hours of good-quality sleep a night to function properly, but some need more and some less. What matters is that you find out how much sleep you need and then try to achieve it. A variety of factors can cause poor sleeping, including health conditions such as sleep apnoea but in most cases, it’s due to bad sleeping habits.

Remember sleep deprivation is dangerous to your mental and physical health and can dramatically lower your quality of life.

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