To get a consistent eight-hour sleep every night could almost seem near impossible. Whether you’re staying up late to cram for exam as a student or having a big night with family and friends or binging on a new series on Netflix, hitting the sack consistently by 10pm is hard to do. Sometimes even if you’re not a night owl, you might just find it hard to get to sleep. Excessive or late-night screen time, and poor lifestyle habits such as eating big meals before bed or having too much caffeine in the day, can also impact your quality and quantity of sleep. According to the Australian Sleep Health Foundation 33 to 45% of adults sleep poorly or not long enough. Inadequate sleep can have a significant impact on our wellbeing.

1. Central Nervous System

Your central nervous system is the main information highway of your body. Sleep is necessary to keep it functioning properly, but chronic insomnia can disrupt how your body usually sends and processes information.

You may also find it more difficult to concentrate or learning new things. The signals your body sends may also be delayed, decreasing your coordination and increasing your risk for accidents.

Sleep deprivation also negatively affects your mental abilities and emotional state. You may feel more impatient or prone to mood swings. It can also compromise your decision-making processes and creativity.

If sleep deprivation continues long enough, you could start having hallucinations — seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there. A lack of sleep can also trigger mania in people who have bipolar mood disorder. Other psychological risks include:

  • Impulsive behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Paranoia

2. Immune System

While you sleep, your immune system produces protective, infection-fighting substances like antibodies and cytokines. It uses these substances to combat foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Certain cytokines also help you to sleep, giving your immune system more efficiency to defend your body against illness.

Sleep deprivation prevents your immune system from building up its forces. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body may not be able to fend off invaders, and it may also take you longer to recover from illness. Long-term sleep deprivation also increases your risk for chronic conditions, such as diabetes mellitus and heart disease.

3. Respiratory System

The relationship between our sleep and the respiratory system goes hand in hand. A night-time breathing disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) could interrupt your sleep and also lower sleep quality.

As you wake up throughout the night, this can cause sleep deprivation, which leaves you more vulnerable to respiratory infections like the common cold and flu. Sleep deprivation can also make existing respiratory diseases worse, such as chronic lung illness.

4. Cardiovascular System

Sleep affects the processes which keep your heart and blood vessels healthy, including those which affect your blood pressure, blood sugar and inflammation levels. It also plays a vital role in your body’s ability to heal and repair the blood vessels and heart. People who don’t sleep enough are more likely to get cardiovascular disease. One analysis linked insomnia to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

5. Increased Moodiness and Decreased Motivation

When you have not re-fuelled your brain and body with a good night’s sleep, there is a flow-on effect to how you feel. You might experience emotional instability and crabbiness, making you feels negative and unmotivated throughout the day. Sleep deprivation could also lead to irrational; responses and aggressive behavior.  A good night’s sleep makes a huge difference in your mood. Without sleep, you’re likely to be irritable and have trouble focusing. You need to sleep to regulate your emotions and be functioning at your best.