Sleep Deprivation Effects.  Do We Miss Them Because We're Too Tired?

"For fast-acting relief, try slowing down."    Lily Tomlin

Sleep deprivation effects are wide-ranging.  The causes of this condition can land anywhere between the versions of sleep apnea to the reality of shift work.  And as is the case for many people, myself included, just trying to do too much in a single day.  We'll look at these causes and how they affect our overall health in this page.

As regular readers probably already guessed, damage to the cardiovascular system is one of the major sleep deprivation effects.  As we continue on our march to great heart health, we'll leave no stone unturned. 

I'm discovering through my process of researching the ways our cardiovascular system is placed in peril, that sleep deprivation effects are just as detrimental as poor diets, lack of exercise and excess stress levels.

Our energy levels are depleted, our ability to fight off disease is reduced and in many cases our moods are just not as good when we don't get proper sleep.  And there is another critical organ that is most effected by lack of sleep.  This may be the least recognized area of concern.

How The Brain Heals Itself Through Deep Sleep

Extended periods of deep sleep allows our brain to flush out toxins back through the circulatory system..  This is accomplished because during this restful period, there are fewer brain functions occurring so the cells within this amazing organ actually shrink. 

Then when we wake up and begin to think and reason or just go about more daily activities, those same cells return to normal size.

So if we aren't getting that sustained period of slumber, another sleep deprivation effect is that our brain is unable to fully remove the toxins.  As with any other part of the body, such poison left inside, leads to serious health challenges.

A common trait found among victims of lack of sleep, is a noticeable buildup of amyloids.  If you read our series about Alzheimer's disease, you know that amyloid presence is an indicator of that dementia related disease.

Sleep Apnea

There are a couple types of sleep apnea.   When the muscles in your throat relax to the point where airflow is constricted, you don't get enough air as you inhale.  Your brain senses this and rouses you very quickly.  This is where you hear that snoring or choking sound.  This type of sleep apnea, called obstructive may actually occur many times per night. 

People suffering from this malady may never get a real solid night of sleep.  This example of sleep deprivation effects are also felt by the person sleeping in the same bed.  They too get poor sleep.  A side effect could be slightly heated discussions in the morning.  But of greater damage is stress on the heart muscle as you are aroused so quickly, so many times.  This condition is yet another thing to prepare for and to combat.

Central sleep apnea is less common and is actually in one way, the reverse of obstructed sleep apnea.  This central version can be caused by heart disease or maybe even stroke.  But as with the first type, sudden jolts to awaken you will occur. 

How Close Are You?

Shift Work Sleep Disorder

Shift work is a reality in our world.  Companies seek to keep the manufacturing process going 24 hours per day.  Many more jobs have been created because of shift work.  But it is also certain that health risks have gone up as well.

Our lifestyle is usually centered around activities in the evening or on the weekends.  But the person on that 3rd shift has to make some very conscious choices.  I've been in that spot before.  I was younger and knew that if I could just grab a couple quick hours of sleep, I'd be OK.  And for the most part, I was OK.  But the sleep deprivation effects don't appear right away.  The process builds over time.

After a while, the OK wasn't quite as OK.  I'd feel tired all the time.  It wasn't noticeable during the job time, because I've always had the work ethic or maybe work curse to want to do things right every time.   Adrenalin kicked in and got me functioning at a higher level.  But on the way home, I was often whipped.  

Then either sleep wouldn't come right away or maybe I wanted to do something, knowing I could grab those two quick hours.  As we discuss the health effects later in this page, you'll see how bad this thinking was on my part.

"I'm in a hurry to get things done; oh I rush and rush until life's no fun"  Roger Murrah and Randy VanWarmer

If you are one of those 2nd or 3rd shift workers, first of all, be the very best employee in that company.  But take it from my scars, you must get that solid uninterrupted sleep during the day.  Yeah, you'll miss some things.  Not as many as you would if the lack of sleep brings on a cumulative tide of illness leading to a heart attack or stroke.  Then you miss plenty of things.

If you are the partner of that person working a late shift to help support your family, be proactive in helping supply that quiet environment so successful, heart mending sleep can occur.  Sleep deprivation effects the entire family if even one person in the home is a victim.

Dr. Chauncey Crandall, author of "Fix It," discussed a study done not too long ago.  I don't think I'd like to be one of the participants in this test, but I'm grateful to those who did so.

Over a three week period, 21 very healthy people were sequestered in a lab setting.  Doctors used various methods to deprive the subjects of good sleep.  After that three week period, they were given nine days to "catch up" on their lost sleep.

As you could guess, the body didn't react well to lack of sleep.  Far fewer calories were burned, less insulin was produced by the pancreas and of course blood sugar levels soared.  The good side of this story is that after the recovery period, the conditions completely reversed. 

Here are some findings from a study about sleep deprivation effects.  "We have different clocks in virtually every organ of our bodies — from our pancreas to our stomach to our fat cells."  Which teaches us that, "We humans are time-keeping machines. And it seems we need regular sleeping and eating schedules to keep all of our clocks in sync.”

In this link you'll find some excellent information about the dangers related to lack of sleep and disrupted sleep patterns.

Sleep Deprivation Effects

So what are some sleep deprivation effects?  We'll start with the big ones.  We've already talked about proper diet, regular check ups and exercise.  We stressed over and over that use of tobacco in any form is simply idiotic.  The facts are indisputable now. 

In this page we're taking on one of the two "inconspicuous threats."  Lack of sleep and stress.  We'll go over that other one in a later page.  One of the biggest effects of lack of sleep is damage to the cardiovascular system.  Your risk level due to sleep loss goes up for:

Heart Disease

Heart Attack

High Blood Pressure



Leptin Resistance

I should include obesity in there because evidence is very clear that lack of sleep induces bad eating habits and leads to obesity.  Which leads to heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure,etc.  The cycle of death.  Usually sleep deprivation effects lead to some of the conditions on that list.

Another sleep deprivation effect is loss of memory consolidation.  Since we are always on the hunt to learn more, it is vital to remember what we've learned.  Sleep deprivation can cause your brain to be unable to create those memory files.  In fact your problem solving and actual learning ability could be compromised.  An extra cup of coffee may not overcome that lack of sleep over time.

Lack of sleep causes accidents.  How many times do we hear, "He fell asleep and crossed the center line."  Followed by. "There were no survivors."  It might be your family.  It might be a stranger.  It doesn't matter. It comes down to basic personal accountability much like not driving after way too many beers.  Impaired judgement is the result in both examples.

In many people  lack of sleep is the freeway to depression.  Insomnia is often linked to depression.  And it becomes a vicious cycle.  An effect of loss of sleep is depression.  And then being depressed can cause you to lose sleep.

In this link you'll find much more detail into sleep deprivation effects, including a great image that highlights how many parts of our body are really at risk when we miss out on good sleep.

Methods To Avoid Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation may not get the publicity of a heart healthy diet.  It may not not be as recognized among heart risks as lack of exercise.  But it does cause major health issues.

I've needed to look myself squarely in the mirror on this topic.  It is pretty easy to write about the dangers of obesity.  High blood pressure and heart disease are part of our family history, so I can even relate to the importance of spreading the word on heart health.

But as I look at the clock when I go to bed at night and then again when I wake up, I realize that I'm just as big an offender as anyone.  So I'm committing myself to better time management.  I'd like to improve the navigation at  But it will happen in due time.  Better that I get quality sleep and be alert and creative.  If it takes a little longer, that will be OK. 

Try turning off the television or computer about 60 minutes before attempting to sleep.  That "blue light" sort of tricks our brain.  Here is a quote from the American Medical Association.

...."nighttime electric light can disrupt circadian rhythms in humans and documents the rapidly advancing understanding from basic science of how disruption of circadian rhythmicity affects aspects of physiology with direct links to human health, such as cell cycle regulation, DNA damage response, and metabolism."

Get rid of that loud alarm clock too.  The sudden jolt caused by the high-pitched alarm isn't doing you any good.

"A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in a doctor's book."   Irish Proverb

When you wake up in the morning, try to get about twenty minutes of sun before you begin the process of getting ready for your work day.  This will help set up those internal clocks we discussed earlier in this page.  For many people reading this page, getting that early sun isn't possible.  But if it is, take advantage of it.

We now know that even thirty minutes of lost sleep time per day can begin the downward health spiral.  Try using that one hour before attempting sleep to read from an uplifting book.  Zig Ziglar's amazing little edition titled "Something Else To Smile About" will do just as the title suggests.  A smile will melt away the stress of any day.

Or maybe "The Lamp" by Jim Stovall.  These short chapters are perfect for bringing good thoughts into your subconscious. 

All of us need to just slow down and do what we can.  Then get good sleep and be ready to hit it even smarter the next day.

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Just below is a quote from "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff" by Richard Carlson.  The chapter title is "Open Your Heart To Compassion." 

"Every day we are given hundreds of opportunities to practice compassion in action.  We can learn to be less reactive and live with more patience.

We can smile when others are serious.  We can drive our cars more carefully, pick up litter on the streets, recycle, and reduce our consumption.

We can resolve conflicts rather than create them, and we can become less judgemental and more inclusive.  When someone is aggressive, we can teach them to be more peaceful.  Instead of waiting for an example, we can be the example.

The more compassion that enters your heart, the happier and more peaceful you will become.  By knowing that you are doing your part to create a better world-whatever form that takes-you will fill any void that exists in your life, and you will begin to find the peace you are looking for."

What's New?

Just below is an article from Peter Schiff about passing the buck from one administration to the next.

Owning The Bubble

Just below is a link to look up your congressional representatives.   Let them know you expect accountability.

Congressional Representative Look Up