Sleep Deprivation

Any young person will have experience of just how difficult it can be to turn off their phone, close down Netflix and go to sleep. After all, what difference will watching one more episode of my favourite series have? However, sleep deprivation can lead to some rather undesirable consequences, that we will explore in this article!

Studies suggest that a lack of sleep is directly linked to decreased cognition, which is the understanding and retaining of information. This is obviously important for all teens that are studying, and so sleep deprivation can have an extensive impact on performance within school. This study also described how even partial sleep loss (such as a few hours each night) contributed to decreased cognition, with the effects ‘accumulating over time’.

It is also thought that a short sleep duration is ‘strongly and consistently associated’ with increased risk of obesity, both now and in the future. It is no secret that when we are tired we have less motivation to exercise due to our fatigue, however, other effects were also noted in a study linking sleep deprivation with weight gain!

For example, when suffering from a lack of sleep, we have an increased desire for foods with higher calorific intake, and higher levels of carbohydrates and fats. As obesity can cause other conditions such as high blood pressure and chronic heart disease, it is vital to avoid excessive weight gain - even if that means turning the lights off an hour earlier!

Finally, loss of sleep is a common cause of anxiety, and poor mental health. Again, even a partial loss of sleep has been seen to cause a significant increase in anxiety. Over time, this can cause mood swings, panic attacks and depression. For young teenagers and adults this can be particularly prevalent, as they adjust to the changes in their body, as well as having many important decisions to make.

As a result, it is clear to see how vital sleep is to the maintaining of a healthy lifestyle. It is recommended that young adults have at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, as their body develops. We know that sleep can help to improve performance in school, as well as maintaining a healthy weight, and a better condition of mental health - and there are many other factors that benefit from a good dose of shuteye!

Therefore, get your homework and revision done early, turn off the TV, and give your body the reward it so richly deserves - 8 hours of quality sleep!


Milad Rouf Final Year Medical Student, Cardiff University.

Durmer, J. and Dinges, D., 2005. Neurocognitive Consequences of Sleep Deprivation. Seminars in Neurology, 25(01), pp.117-129. (Durmer and Dinges, 2005)

Patel, S. and Hu, F., 2008. Short Sleep Duration and Weight Gain: A Systematic Review. Obesity, 16(3), pp.643-653.(Patel and Hu, 2008)

Pires, G., Bezerra, A., Tufik, S. and Andersen, M., 2016. Effects of acute sleep deprivation on state anxiety levels: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep Medicine, 24, pp.109-118.(Pires, Bezerra, Tufik and Andersen, 2016)

Kitamura, S., Katayose, Y., Nakazaki, K., Motomura, Y., Oba, K., Katsunuma, R., Terasawa, Y., Enomoto, M., Moriguchi, Y., Hida, A. and Mishima, K., 2016. Estimating individual optimal sleep duration and potential sleep debt. Scientific Reports, 6(1).(Kitamura et al., 2016)