Is Lack of Sleep Making You Sick?

February 26, 2018


Doctors recommend adults get between seven to nine hours of sleep per night. However, according to HuffPost, more than a third of Americans regularly do not sleep enough. That means that roughly 83.6 million adults in the U.S. alone are sleep deprived. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 34.8 percent of American adults get less than seven hours of sleep per night. Worse yet, 11.8 percent of adults get less than five hours per night! While you may think that a bad night’s sleep will just make for a rough morning, the effects are actually far worse and have the potential to be long-lasting.

Weak Immune System

Your immune system, which is a network of organs, cells and tissues that all work together to protect your body, relies on sleep to function. According to the Mayo Clinic, sleep deprivation will affect your body’s ability to fight off or recover from sickness. During sleep, your body releases proteins called cytokines. These proteins increase when you have an infection to help protect the body. However, lack of sleep may decrease the production of cytokines and other infection-fighting cells and antibodies. A 2009 study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, observed the sleeping habits of 153 volunteers over the course of two weeks. The study reported that people who slept less than seven hours per night were three times as likely to develop a cold than those who got sufficient sleep. Even just a few nights of insufficient sleep can leave you more vulnerable to sickness.

Weight Gain

Beyond susceptibility to a cold or the flu, lack of sleep can have a serious long-term impact on your body. According to, if your brain does not get the necessary energy from sleep, it will try to compensate with food. A lack of sleep can lead to an increased production of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and leptin, the satiety hormone. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body will crave foods that are high in sugar and fat, such as fried foods and candy. This poor diet will inevitably lead to weight gain and put you at risk for weight-related illnesses such as type 2 diabetes.

Long-Term Effects

Diabetes is not the only long-term illness that can result from a poor sleep schedule. reports that your risk of heart and cardiovascular disease increase as a result of chronic sleep deprivation as well. Five hours a night is simply not enough sleep. Lack of sleep can also play a part in depression. Navigating life while running on empty will have a severe negative impact on your overall quality of life.

Lack of sleep can lead to poor memory performance, a lack of coordination and a decrease in motivation. By taking the time to step up your sleeping game, you’ll be amazed at the improvements you’re sure to see in your everyday life.

If you find yourself experiencing any concerning symptoms, you can skip the hassle of the doctor’s office and visit American Family Care. At American Family Care, you’ll be promptly seen by qualified medical professionals at your convenience – no appointment needed!


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