How Lack of Sleep Impacts Your Brain, Emotions, And Performance

side effects of lack of sleep

What happens if you don't get enough sleep? You've probably heard people say that sleep is important, but you may not realise the profound consequences of not getting enough. Sleep deprivation has serious side effects on your cognitive function, emotional wellbeing, workplace performance and overall health. 

Getting enough sleep is not optional but absolutely required.

What Happens If You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

During sleep is when your body performs a number of essential functions. Think of it as a maintenance crew that helps reset and heal your brain.

For instance, it's when your brain creates new pathways, helping cement the information you learned that day. At the same time, it's clearing out old and unused synapses, enabling more efficient brain function.

Then there are the toxic proteins. During the day, neural activity actually creates toxic proteins that can only be eliminated during sleep. Think of sleep like a cleanse for your brain!  So, when you don't get enough sleep, those toxins can accumulate, increasing your risk of developing neurological issues like Alzheimer's or dementia.

Not to mention the regular old side effects of lack of sleep like feeling tired, moody, ravenous, depressed or anxious. Sleep - or the lack of it - has a knock-on effect on so many desirable lifestyle behaviours- like the desire to exercise, the ability to stress hack, and choosing healthy foods. 

So, if you find yourself feeling exhausted, foggy, moody or like your brain is moving slowly ... it may be because you're not getting enough sleep.

But that’s not all! There’s even more havoc caused by sleep deprivation to cover, so keep reading.

Side Effects Of Lack Of Sleep On Your Physical And Emotional Wellbeing

When you don't get enough sleep, coordination goes awry. It's similar to having too much alcohol in your system – things just don't work like they should. You might find yourself tripping over your own feet or struggling to stay balanced.

Not only that, but people who don't get enough sleep are more likely to experience vehicle and workplace accidents, as well as a higher injury rate in general. On top of that, when you're sleep deprived your cognitive functioning is decreased – so even tasks like driving or working on the computer become harder.

In terms of emotional wellbeing, when you don't get enough sleep it's likely you'll feel more irritable, depressed and anxious. You may find yourself overwhelmed by even the smallest tasks or problems – and trying to solve them can seem almost impossible.

Not getting enough sleep can also lead to impaired decision-making skills, meaning that even your most important decisions might be clouded by poor judgement.

Side Effects Of Sleep Deprivation On Workplace Performance

It's no surprise that when you don't get enough sleep, your productivity takes a serious hit. Research shows that people who don't get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep are more likely to make mistakes and have trouble focusing on tasks.

Studies also show that when you're sleep deprived, it can be hard to remember details or focus on the conversation at hand – making it difficult to get through meetings, collaborate with colleagues, or even just finish tasks on time.

Plus, when you're not getting enough sleep, you may find yourself relying more heavily on caffeine and sugar as a pick-me-up. This can lead to more crashes later in the day which further decreases your productivity. Not to mention the other non-desirable effects of too much sugar and caffeine such as weight gain or the tired-but-wired phenomenon.

The Benefits of a Well-Rested Brain

On the other hand, getting enough restful sleep can have profound effects on your overall wellbeing.

It's been found that getting adequate sleep aids in problem-solving, creativity and decision-making – all essential skills for the workplace. Getting enough sleep also helps you be more productive and creative during the day because it allows the body and brain to recharge.

The truth is there are so many benefits to getting enough sleep! Including:

  • Reduced stress levels
  • Improved cognitive function
  • Better focus
  • Improved memory
  • Reduced irritability
  • Mood improvement
  • More energy

This list could go on for a while! I'm sure you know how much better everything works when you're well-rested.

So, What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep? 

As you can see, getting enough good quality sleep every night is essential for our physical, emotional and cognitive wellbeing. And the lack of it has profound effects on our ability to perform at our jobs.

Unfortunately, too many of us are not getting the recommended amount of restful sleep each night, which can have serious consequences on all aspects of our lives.

From decreased coordination to an increased risk of workplace accidents and injuries and just an inability to perform at your best, lack of sufficient sleep can be detrimental to both your personal life and work performance.

The latest research shows that drivers who slept even one hour less than usual are at significantly higher risk for motor-vehicle crashes. What’s more, according to the National Sleep Foundation, highly sleep-deprived workers are 70% more likely to be involved in work-related accidents.

So, what can you do besides cut short your Netflix binge a little earlier? 

Or, as an executive, manager or team leader, how can you encourage your employees to get enough sleep?

Well, that's one of the reasons I created my Workplace Wellbeing Workshops. They address all the pillars of wellbeing and performance for employees and professionals. Including how to ensure a good night's sleep is a regular occurrence.

Get all the details on this simple way to improve your health, wellbeing - and sleep! - right here: The Science of Workplace Wellbeing Workshops

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