effects of sleep deprivation on the body

What are the effects of sleep deprivation on the body?

Well, there are many different effects! The effects of sleep deprivation on the body varies respectively. We are now aware that a lack of sleep will actually prevent your brain from being able to initially make new memories. So, it’s almost as though without sleep the memory receiver of the brain shuts down. When it happens, you can’t transfer new experiences to memory.

Lack of sleep has also been linked to increased development of a toxic protein in the brain that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease!  It is found that during deep sleep at night the sewage system within the brain actually kicks into gear. Then, it starts to wash away this toxic protein which is called beta-amyloid.

So if you’re not getting enough sleep each and every night, more of that Alzheimer’s-related protein will build up. The more protein that builds up, the greater your risk of going on to develop dementia in later life.

There are a variety of effects that sleep deprivation can have on the body. For example, let’s start with the reproductive system…


The effects of sleep deprivation on the body (Reproductive System)

  • Were you aware that men who are sleeping for just five to six hours a night have a level of testosterone which is that of someone ten years their senior? So a lack of sleep will age you by almost a decade in terms of that aspect of virility and wellness.
  • Women who have trouble sleeping or are shift workers often have poor melatonin levels. Therefore, they find it more difficult to fall pregnant and even conceive.

The effects of sleep deprivation on the body’s Immune system


  • After just one night of fewer than 5 hours of sleep, there is a 70% reduction in critical anticancer fighting immune cells called natural killer cells.
  • You are less likely to be able to fight infection if your sleep quality is poor.

Did you realise that if you had a week of poor quality sleep before a flu vaccination that the injection would only be 50% effective! Crazy!!!

Cardiovascular System


  • During your deep REM sleep at night you receive the most beneficial form of blood pressure medication. Your heart rate drops, your blood pressure goes down.
  • If you’re not getting sufficient sleep, you’re not getting that reboot of the cardiovascular system, so your blood pressure rises. You have if you’re getting six hours of sleep or less, a 200% increased risk of having a fatal heart attack or stroke in your lifetime.
  • When we lose one hour of sleep when daylight savings starts there have been studies to show that there is a subsequent increase of 24% in heart attacks the following day, and when it goes back to normal, we then see a 21% decline.

Hair loss (as seen in-depth at https://www.hairguard.com/lack-of-sleep/)

  • Your hair strengthens and grows while you sleep, lack of sleep creates stress and can promote hair loss



Have you ever wondered how long you can actually last without sleep before we start to see declines in brain function or even impairments within your body? The answer seems to be about 16 hours of wakefulness.

Once you get past 16 hours of being awake, that’s when we start to see mental deterioration and physiological deterioration in the body. We know that after you’ve been awake for 19 or 20 hours, your mental capacity is so impaired that you would be as deficient as someone who was legally drunk behind the wheel of a car. So if you were to ask me what is the recycling rate of a human being, it does seem to be about 16 hours and we need about 7.5 hours of sleep to repair the damage of wakefulness. Wakefulness has been reported to essentially be low-level brain damage!

For more tips on your sleep cycles, your sleep routine and your sleep hygiene check out the podcast that we did with ‘The Sleep Doctor’, Doctor Michael Breus HERE 

Nicole McDermott

I am passionate about working with people on a holistic level to balance hormones, improve mood, manage weight all whilst educating people on the benefits of a balanced whole foods diet. Follow more great advice from Nic here.