As we step into a new year, some bad habits have just got to go. If you have not realised, pushing late into the night is a health and productivity killer. According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at the Harvard Medical School, short-term productivity gains from skipping sleep to work are quickly washed away by the detrimental effects that sleep deprivation does to your mood, ability to focus and access to higher-level brain functions for subsequent days. The negative effects of sleep deprivation are so great that people who are drunk outperform those lacking sleep.
When you’re asleep, the brain removes toxic proteins from its neurons that are by-products of neural activity when you’re awake. Unfortunately, the brain is only able to remove them while you’re asleep. Thus, when you don’t get sufficient sleep, the toxic proteins remain in your brain cells, and impair your ability to think, something that no amount of caffeine can fix. Having insufficient rest impairs your brain functions in multiple ways; It slows your ability to process information and problem solving capabilities, kills creativity and increases your stress levels and emotional reactivity.
Moreover, sleep deprivation is linked to a variety of serious health problems, including heart attack, stroke and obesity. Lack of sleep stresses you out as the body overproduces cortisol when it’s sleep deprived, and makes you look older. Also, sleep deprivation makes you hungrier by increasing the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin and makes it harder for you to get full by reducing levels of the satiety-inducing hormone leptin. It then compromises your body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates and control food intake, thereby making you fat.
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