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What happens if we do not get enough sleep?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
The short-term consequences of not sleeping well are fairly obvious. You may have a hard time getting up in the morning, yawn a lot, feel disinterested in normal activities, have difficulty learning new concepts or remembering information, or feel grumpy.

After a couple days of not sleeping well—or after just one night of not sleeping enough—you become forgetful, you have trouble making good decisions, you're less alert and aware, your reaction time slows, and you're more prone to accidents. In fact, falling asleep is the cause of more than 100,000 car crashes in the United States each year, according to the National Highway Safety Administration.

Long-term effects of poor sleep include high blood pressure, depression, weight gain, heart attack, and stroke.

Some of the less dangerous effects we can suffer from going without sleep include moodiness, irritability, a loss of inhibition and difficulty with concentration and focus.

If you miss out on more than a few hours of sleep, you may experience more serious symptoms, including apathy, slowed speech, deflated emotional response, impaired memory and an inability to do more than one thing at a time.

If you remain awake too long, you will become extremely drowsy and will actually fall into microsleeps-nodding off for five to 10 seconds at a time. While that is not a big deal at the movies, it can be fatal if you are driving. An estimated 100,000 car crashes happen each year because motorists fall asleep while driving.

If you push on too long without sleep, you may even have hallucinations.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
When people don't sleep for three or more days on end, they become psychotic; that's why so many forms of torture involve sleep deprivation. With no sleep, you're vulnerable, weak, and spaced out. Sleep problems and sleep deprivation are self-imposed torture. And the stakes are high: a weakened immune system, increased risk of heart disease, and a brain that works about as fast as a Commodore 64 computer.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.