Here’s What Sleeping Less Than 7 Hours A Night Does To Your Body And Brain

by : Julia Banim on : 01 Nov 2018 20:20
Man yawningMan yawningGetty

It’s becoming somewhat of the norm in these modern times to make light of our collective lack of sleep.


Binge-watching a box set until 2am Monday morning can often seem like a good idea at the time, until of course you find yourself yawning away at your desk for the remainder of the day.

However, scientific research suggests how regularly getting less than seven hours sleep can have a much more profound effect on your physical and mental health than causing you to miss your 8am train.

As many will already know from experience, not getting enough shuteye can cause your cognitive performance, mood, and sex drive to nosedive.


However, what many of us don’t anticipate is the links to a lowered immune system, chronic skin damage, obesity and lowered fertility. There are even links with increased risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and shortened life expectancy.

According to information on the NHS website, one in three people suffer from poor sleep, despite most needing approximately eight hours quality sleep each night in order to function properly.

Dr. Benjamin Smarr, National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley, told Bustle:

When you don’t get enough sleep, you build up ‘sleep debt,’ which is essentially the pressure in your body from all the healing and resetting that didn’t get to happen due to the lack of sleep time.

The effects of sleep deprivation are quite dangerous, as it interferes with the healing and mental refreshing that good sleep provides.

Sleep deprivation may seem like an inconsequential thing that one accidentally accumulates, but it is a pervasive and widespread public health problem that needs to be taken much more seriously than it is.

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a lack of sleep drastically affects your quality of life in the short term and the long term:

Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.

The way you feel while you’re awake depends in part on what happens while you’re sleeping. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health.

In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development. The damage from sleep deficiency can occur in an instant (such as a car crash), or it can harm you over time.

For example, ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for some chronic health problems. It also can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.

There are honestly so many benefits of getting a good night’s sleep, I just don’t get why we all don’t do it more often.


Well, that’s me settling in early with a nice Horlicks this evening…

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Health


Bustle and 2 others
  1. Bustle

    11 Things That Happen To Your Body When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep

  2. NHS

    Why lack of sleep is bad for your health

  3. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

    Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency