Learn the 10 dangerous consequences of sleep deprivation

Until around 50 years ago, most people thought that sleep wasn't important. Many researchers even thought that sleep was the most passive, boring part of the day.

The truth is, however, that our brains and internal systems are extremely active during sleep. Without proper sleep, our cognitive functions would be impaired, our judgment skewed, and our immune systems weakened.

In addition, an estimated 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders. Many of these people can't function properly during the day, and, as a result of energy loss, are hit with long-term illnesses.

In an exclusive guide below, we'll take a look at just 10 of the detrimental effects and health risks brought on by sleep deprivation.

There are many ways to turn this around and help better your condition. Try visiting your doctor for solutions, or even try natural remedies, like these yoga poses to help you sleep better.

Scroll further to learn the startling effects of sleep deprivation, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Risk #1: Impaired Brain Function

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Sleep is critical for proper body functions and high-level cognitive functions.

When you sleep, the neurons in your central nervous system rest the active neurons, and your body uses the time to make proteins that help repair cell damage, according to Healthline.

If you sleep only three, four, or five hours a day, your brain will be left exhausted. During waking hours, you'll likely yawn constantly and feel sluggish, and fail to concentrate and be productive.

Sleep deprivation can stifle your creativity and decrease your ability to make effective decisions.

Risk #2: Weakened Immune System

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In addition to regenerating cells, sleep also aids your immune system in producing antibodies and cytokines that help fight infections and diseases.

You use these powerful cells to destroy things like bacteria and viruses and to stave off illnesses.

According to the Mayo Clinic, your immune system won't have the opportunity to strengthen its walls if you're constantly running on low energy.

Sleep deprivation can also contribute to developing risks involved with diabetes and heart disease.

Risk #3: Raised Blood Pressure

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It's highly likely that sleep deprivation contributes to raised blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic. Those who sleep five hours or less may be at a higher risk for hypertension.

During sleep, your blood helps regulate the stress hormones in your body, as well as aids the nervous system to retain balance.

Sleep deprivation over time can damage your stress hormones and lead to higher blood pressure.

Risk #4: Weight Gain

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Sleep deprivation may very likely lead to increases in hunger and appetite, as well as a risk of obesity, according to WebMD.

Studies in the past have shown that people who regularly slept fewer than six hours a day were more than 30 percent more likely to become obese in their lifetimes.

If you are sleep deprived, the peptides that usually regulate appetite in your body will become imbalanced.

Risk #5: Weakened Memory

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Sleep deprivation can negatively affect both your short-term and long-term memory.

In addition to impairing your judgment, cognitive functions, and emotions, a lack of sleep can damage your memory and your ability to think clearly and process information.

"Studies show that over time, people who are getting six hours of sleep, instead of seven or eight, begin to feel that they've adapted to that sleep deprivation — they've gotten used to it," said sleep expert Phil Gehrman.

Risk #6: Accidents And Injuries

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that at least 100,000 car crashes each year can be blamed on "drowsy driving."

When you're sleep deprived, you do something called "micro sleep," in which you dose off to sleep for a few seconds or minutes, but you don't realize it.

That's why it's so dangerous to drive or do hazardous activities when you're sleep deprived.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has also reported that sleep deprivation has led to major occupational injuries, as well as accidents with airplanes, ships, and nuclear reactor meltdowns.

Risk #7: Irregular Heartbeat

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Arrhythmias are a combination of conditions where the heartbeat is abnormal, too fast, or too slow.

They can be caused by many factors, including stress, stimulants, toxins, and lack of sleep.

Sleep deprivation and chronic sleep disorders can also lead to other conditions like heart disease, heart failure, and strokes.

Risk #8: Lowered Libido

Maya Borenstein For LittleThings

Specialists have noted that sleep-deprived people repeatedly report having lower libidos and a lowered interest in engaging in sexual activity, according to WebMD.

While lack of sleep itself could have brought this on, other related factors include depleted energy, hypertension, and irritation.

Some men afflicted by sleep apnea, a respiratory problem that acts up during sleep, also report a lower sex drive.

Risk #9: Lackluster, Sallow Skin

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It's normal for people to have puffy eyes and dull, pasty skin after suffering from a lack of sleep a few nights in a row.

But those with chronic sleep deprivation can experience a rather extreme change in appearance. They'll see lackluster skin, the development of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark circles under their eyes.

And it's not hard to see why. When you're sleep deprived, your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol. This can damage skin collagen, which is the protein that keeps your skin smooth and healthy.

Risk #10: Strained Relationships

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A lack of sleep may damage not only your well-being, but the happiness and sanity of those around you.

Your slump may disrupt your partner's sleep, or cause a strain in your relationship between members of your family or with your friends.

Please SHARE if you think the dangers of sleep deprivation are real and need to be taken seriously!

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