Most adults in the world today don't get a good night's sleep. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that at least a third of the population don't get a proper night's sleep. Sleep affects a significant portion of our lives and can be considered one of the building blocks of a healthy life. The impacts of sleep deprivation are well-known to science. Science Alert mentions that lack of sleep can be potentially deadly for mammals.
Performance-wise, lack of sleep can lead to slower reaction times, impairment of judgment, and can lead to various physiological problems which may affect the quality of a person's life. Sleep is still a significant component of a healthy life, and while many people try to balance their sleep cycle out, some people are openly willing to go about life without the proper minimum amount of sleep. As we will see, lack of sleep can severely affect how you perform everyday tasks.
Delayed Reaction Time
We already know that sleep can cause us to respond to events slower. The National Sleep Foundation mentions that it can affect our ability to react to split-second changes in our environment. Reflex reactions occur based on external stimuli, and split-second reactions require the brain to process incoming information and then direct a signal to the body to prevent some undesirable outcome. In the case of slowed reaction time, this may be due to how the brain perceives what is around it, and how fast it comes to a decision.
Lowered awareness due to sleep deprivation might be the starting point for understanding slowed reaction time. However, as the journal Brain Cognition notes, the longer someone is awake, the more it affects their brain's ability to process things. When both of these situations come together, we get slowed reaction time, which, in some circumstances, can endanger the individual.
Lack of Judgment
Morality is an individual thing; one person's morals might not match another individual's. Despite this, even people who have a specific moral code they adhere to may very likely perform actions that go against that code when deprived of sleep. Science Daily reports that sleep deprivation can impact how human beings can integrate cognition alongside emotion to make moral decisions. The longer a person remains awake, the less likely they are to make moral judgments, and the more likely they are to impact the long-term course of their life through poor experience.
Physiological Disease Risk
Harvard notes that long-term sleep deprivation may have adverse effects on our health. The short-term effects of sleep deprivation include the body losing its ability to regulate blood glucose, a rise in blood pressure, both of which may be associated with an increase in mental stress levels. These short-term impacts of sleep deprivation are significant, but the long-term effects of continued lack of sleep are even more disturbing.
Among the individuals that lack sleep continuously, there is an observed increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure/hypertension. Additionally, lack of sleep can negatively affect brain chemistry leading to depression and anxiety. Furthermore, people who sleep less tend to have metabolic issues as their body loses the ability to judge when metabolic activity should happen, and as a result, they end up putting on weight and becoming obese.
The Everyday Impacts of Loss of Sleep
Sleeping is essential to human beings and without proper sleep, a person could see significant problems with their ability to think, make judgments, and even avoid injury. The corrective measure for lack of sleep isn't just sleeping more, but getting a higher quality of sleep. In some cases, achieving this goal might be as simple as buying a new memory foam mattress. Having enough good sleep should be what you're aiming for. It doesn't matter if you get eight hours of sleep a night if that sleep is of the worst quality. It might be just as bad as staying awake for an entire day.