Pulling an all nighter is something which many of us do, usually when cramming for an exam or staying up to finish that assignment, but did you know that not catching those Zs can have a negative impact on your health? This is something that I learned the hard way whilst working for consumer directed care Brooklyn, working around the clock to look after some of the city’s elderly yet I quickly realized that I was actually doing more harm than good by not sleeping.
In fact despite the strange romanticism that exists around getting no sleep, it is actually nothing to boast about as it can cause a great deal of damage to your health. Of course the odd all-nighter won’t cause too many issues, but do it frequently and these are some of the risks which you are running.
Sleep depravation is a common cause of accidents in the workplace and on our roads, in fact the National Highway Commission attribute over 100,000 accidents per year to fatigue caused by sleep deprivation. When you lack quality sleep you also lose focus carrying out daily tasks, and your brain function is so low that it can also cause a considerable lack of concentration.
Illness and Disease
Studies in the last 10 years alone have classed sleep depravation as a key cause of illnesses such as heart disease as well as increasing the risk of heart failure and heart attacks. Furthermore we have seen evidence of high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, stroke and diabetes all caused as a result of poor sleep quality over a long period of time. Lack of sleep causes damage to both the heart and the brain with many later-life illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s also being caused by the damage that a lack of sleep can do.
If you have ever pulled an all nighter you will know only too well that the day afterwards can leaving you feeling quite dumb, and nowhere near as sharp as you usually are. The reason for this slow down in cognitive function is simply because you haven’t given the brain the chance to rest and process during sleeping hours, which negatively affects your attention span, your alertness, your reasoning and problem solving skills.
Those with sleep disorders such as insomnia have been linked to being a contributory factor in many who suffer from depression. In 2007 a study of 10,000 people found that those who had insomnia or who regularly had poor quality sleep, were 5 times more likely to develop depression than those who sleep well each night.
Because the body does not get the chance to reset itself when you don’t sleep our skin is not able to properly recover and as such it can leave you looking far older than your years. People who have a few nights of poor quality or zero sleep will have puffy eyes and sunken skin, those who do so over a longer period of time have dark circles around the eyes and the elasticity of the skin will be greatly reduced thus causing wrinkles and fine lines.
An all nighter once in a while isn’t the end of the world but if you continue it with regularity, you are playing dangerous game with your health.