Is Sleep Deprivation Dangerous

Going into nocturnal overdrive to get a job done or hang out with friends may seem harmless but you could be sacrificing your health if you do it regularly. The body experiences a lack of sleep as a state of stress. Once in stress mode, our bodies respond by raising the level of stress hormones, such as adrenaline. Hormones regulate functions such as blood pressure and insulin levels, and when in a constant state of stress they can be hard to control. Under a constant state of stress, the immune system also becomes impaired and the ability to fight diseases lessens.

Lack of sleep disrupts physiologic functions, and can drive our bodies to be out of sync with reality. Sleep is not a considered a luxury, it’s a healthy necessity. Mild sleep deprivation is shown to disrupt the normal levels of the hormones ghrelin and leptin, which regulate appetite. Low levels of leptin can cause the body to crave carbs and overeat. Studies show that those who sleep the least are more prone to gain weight.


Endurance artist, David Blaine has performed many stunts that involved sleep deprivation. He mentions one in which he stayed awake, trapped inside a block of glacial ice for 3 days and 3 nights in New York’s Times Square. In an interview with Time magazine, Blaine says, “I didn't get any sleep, and the sleep deprivation starts to tweak your brain. So I went into an altered mental state and then went into hallucinations, and it really became very, very difficult. That was one I know I could never do again.” He adds, “After 36 hours of sleep deprivation it's like being drunk, 72 hours and paranoia sets in, day four the mind goes into hallucinations and you're dreaming while awake. The problem is there's no way to know how to offset brain damage or to train for this because there isn't sufficient research.”


TThe Physiological Effects of Sleep Deprivation

• Cognitive impairment, memory lapses, and mental inefficiency

• Irritability

• Hallucinations and Psychosis

• Impaired immune system

• Weight gain or loss

• Heart palpitations

• Muscle aches

• Increased blood pressure

• Blurry vision

• Hyperactivity

• Dark under-eye circles

• Headaches

• Depression


Usually, the symptoms of short-term sleep deprivation can be reversed by getting the proper amount of sleep. If you’ve tried to sleep and are still waking up exhausted it could be a sign of a medical condition, such as Sleep Apnea. Consult with your physician for testing and evaluation.