What happens to your body when you don’t get enough sleep?


Lack of sufficient sleep has significant adverse effects on the body, including physiological and cognitive impairments:

  1. Hormonal Imbalance: Insufficient sleep disrupts the balance between the appetite-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin. Leptin signals satiety, while ghrelin increases hunger. Sleep deprivation reduces leptin levels and increases ghrelin levels, leading to increased hunger and potential weight gain 1.

  2. Impaired Cognitive and Motor Performance: Sleep deprivation weakens concentration and focus. It is comparable to the impairment seen in drunk drivers, shedding light on the dangers of operating vehicles or performing critical tasks under such conditions 2.

  3. Metabolic Disruption: Lack of sleep negatively affects blood sugar regulation due to impaired insulin release and decreased cellular responsiveness to insulin. This can exacerbate or contribute to metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes 3.

    Sleep and Weight

    Matthew explains how sleep impacts appetite-regulating hormones, leptin and ghrelin, affecting hunger levels. Lack of sleep can lead to increased cravings for unhealthy foods, potentially contributing to weight gain. Prioritizing quality sleep can help regulate appetite and promote healthier eating habits.

    Huberman Lab

    Dr. Matthew Walker: The Biology of Sleep & Your Unique Sleep Needs | Huberman Lab Guest Series
  4. Weakened Immune System: Even short periods of restricted sleep can lead to a significant decrease in natural killer cell activity, which are crucial for fighting infections and cancer. It also undermines vaccine efficacy by reducing antibody response 4.

  5. Increased Cardiovascular Risk: Studies have shown an increase in incidents of heart attacks following nights with decreased sleep, particularly highlighted during daylight saving time changes 5.

  6. Genetic Impact: Chronic sleep restriction can alter gene expression associated with immune response, inflammation, and stress, further underscoring the extensive impact of sleep on health 6.

These effects illustrate the critical role of adequate sleep in maintaining various aspects of health, from metabolic processes to immune function.