Can Not Sleeping Enough Make You Sick?

A lack of sleep is something we all experience at one time or another. Whether traveling, staying up all night to study or work, a new baby or puppy in the house. Sometimes a lack of sleep can be unavoidable but are there long term effects of lack of sleep? When dealing with a poor night’s sleep we often reach for caffeine or sugar to get us through the day, promising ourselves that we’ll catch up on sleep that night or at the weekend.  If this is a regular occurrence for you, it could be time to make some sleep hygiene changes. 

Sleep deprivation has also been linked to diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease

What Are the Side Effects of Lack of Sleep?

Lack of sleep can have some real implications for your health. Such as a poor immune system that is slow to react to viruses. Sleep allows your body to repair itself and release cytokines (proteins) that nurtures sleep but also come to the rescue when your immune system is fighting infection. Therefore, picking up a common cold could demand a much larger recovery time than if you were sleeping at least eight hours per night. Antibodies that are responsible for aiding recovery are diminished due to a lack of shut-eye. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. 

How Do I Stop Feeling Sick From Lack of Sleep?

To ease nausea from lack of sleep, eat a hot (but small) healthy meal of carbs and protein with a warm drink such as green tea. It’s tempting to reach for coffee and sugar but this relief will be short-lived and you’ll feel worse than before. Stay hydrated by sipping water or a low sugar sports drink to help you focus on your daily tasks.   

Clean up your sleep hygiene by going to bed at the same time every night 

Can You Store Up Sleep?  

Many of us live on the mantra ‘we’ll catch up on the weekend’. But can you bank sleep as easy as topping up your checking account? To an extent, yes but that doesn’t mean you can live on 4 hours of sleep per night Monday to Friday and sleep all weekend. Unfortunately, sleep doesn’t work that way. If you have ann impending event or task that requires all your concentration and energy, it’s possible to sleep a little extra in the days leading up to the event and feel some benefits. As a long term option, it’s not advisable to live on little sleep every night. 

Can You Die From Lack of Sleep?

As we know, sleep deprivation has a depleting effect on our immune system that can lead to sickness. Some cases of death by sleep deprivation have been reported. In 2012 a soccer fan died from exhaustion after staying awake for 11 nights to watch every European Championship game. Two years later another football fan stayed awake for days to catch the games and died of exhaustion. Although, there are secondary reasons such as alcohol and nicotine intake that could account for those deaths. Sleep deprivation can play tricks on the mind and severely limit your ability to function. Some studies have recorded people going up to 11 days without sleep and recovering to suffer no ill effects. Therefore, while highly unlikely that you could die from lack of sleep, dealing with it long term might not have a positive impact on your long term physical health.  

What to Do if Sleep Is Not Coming?

If you can never sleep and suffering extreme insomnia seek help from your doctor immediately. Determine any underlying causes for your insomnia; anxiety, depression, illness, stress, or current medication. Clean up your sleep hygiene by going to bed at the same time every night and getting out of bed at the same time every morning, even at weekends and days off. Your diet plays a massive roll in your overall health, a clean healthy diet could help you on those unavoidable days of having to manage from a restless night.   

8 Tips to Sleep Better Tonight 

  1. Go to bed at the same time every night.
  2. Avoid caffeine after midday.
  3. Drink a warm glass of milk with honey before bed to help you relax.
  4. Keep a comfortable bedroom temperature.
  5. No gadgets in the bedroom while sleeping. 
  6. Listen to relaxing music or meditate if having trouble falling asleep. 
  7. Ensure your room is dark.
  8. Get out of bed at the same time every day. 

The odd restless night here and there can be unpleasant but manageable. If you find yourself needing an exorbitant amount of time to recover from a mild illness like the common cold, you struggle to focus on your daily tasks due to extreme fatigue or go more than 3 nights without any sleep. Clean up any sleep hygiene bad habits, ask for help from family, friends, and talk to your doctor if you’re trying to manage an extreme bout of insomnia. A good night’s sleep is fundamental to your overall health and happiness, you can take that to the bank.