Had a big night of Netflix and woken up the next day feeling groggy? A new study suggests a lack of sleep may have the same effects on the body as being drunk. So, completing that last-minute assignment at 3am may not be such a good idea after all…
The University of New South Wales conducted a study comparing the effects of sleep deprivation and alcohol consumption on performance. Finding that less than seven hours of sleep per night can affect our abilities in a similar way to alcohol.
The study involved performance tests on participants working for the army and the transport industry throughout 28 hours of sleep deprivation, and after consuming alcohol up to 0.1% blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
After 17-19 hours without sleep, performance on some tests were equivalent to or worse than the test results at 0.5% BAC – the legal driving limit. Response speeds were up to 50% slower for some tests and accuracy was significantly poorer.
The effects of fatigue don’t stop there, in fact a lack of adequate sleep puts your physical and mental health at risk.
What does lack of sleep do to our bodies?
A number of studies have linked lack of sleep to weight gain. Some showing that those who sleep less than six hours per night are much more likely to have a higher BMI than others. Sleeping plays an important role in regulating hormones that help control appetite, energy, metabolism and glucose processing.
Insufficient sleep is linked to a higher likelihood of developing type two diabetes. This is due to the way the body processes glucose and the important function sleep plays in this.
- Heart disease
Studies have revealed that even one night of poor sleep can cause elevated blood pressure through to the next day for those suffering from hypertension.
There is a link between poor sleep and cardiovascular disease and stroke. With one study finding that too little or too much sleep can increase the risk of coronary heart disease in women.
- Mood disorders
Waking up from just one night of poor sleep can cause us to be irritable and moody. So, it may not come as a shock to know that chronic sleep issues are associated with depression, anxiety and mental disorders.
- Immune function
Sleep deprivation can weaken the immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to falling ill after exposure to a virus. It can also have an immense impact on the recovery time required.
- Life expectancy
It’s no surprise that lack of sleep is associated to a lower life expectancy, given the important functions that occur during slumber. One study found that those sleeping five hours or less per night increased their risk of mortality by approximately 15%.