Less than 100 years ago, people slept 9 hours a night on average; now most of us are getting less than 7 hours a night, if even that. We have modern conveniences that are supposed to save us time, but really these conveniences just give us time to do more and sleep less. Before you simply accept sleep deprivation as inevitable with a busy modern life, consider these harmful effects.

Physical effects
There are many apparent short term results of sleep deprivation, such as – fatigue, lack or energy and exhaustion. These are not the only issues with depriving your body of sleep, some are of greater danger. Quality, restorative sleep not only recharges and repairs our brains, it also repairs our bodies. Here are some problems that can occur from inadequate sleep:

* Inability to properly process glucose. This can lead to high blood sugar levels, the start of type II diabetes. This also causes glucose to be stored as fat more easily, which leads to weight gain.

* Increased symptoms of aging such as decreased concentration and alertness.

* Core body temperature is lowered, which can impair proper metabolic functioning again contributing to fatigue and weight gain.

* Less consistent heart beat as well as loss of beat to beat variability, an indicator of good heart health.

* Increased levels of inflammatory molecules are produced causing increased levels of pain.

Mental effects
All day long, no matter what you're doing or not doing, your brain is working. It's utilizing time inputting, processing, and outputting information. Even if you don't think you get much done daily, your brain actually does a lot of work. That's why it's key that your brain has time to rest and recharge. Here are just a few of the damaging mental effects of sleep deprivation.

* Less control over speech – shown through slurring, stuttering, speaking in monotone, and using repetitive words and cliches. Scientists assume this happens because the speech area of the brain actually shuts down and a different, less capable part of the brain, takes over.

* Eventhough short term memory may be enhanced, there is also a decreased ability to access older memories and convert long term memory to short term memory. It then becomes nearly impossible to learn a new skill.

* Decreased creativity, especially when it comes to problem solving. Sleep deprived people are likely to be slower and less accurate when solving problems.

* Hallucinations and even temporary insanity can happen from a lack of REM sleep, a crucialstage of sleep in the restorative and repairative sleep processes.

* Decreased judgment abilities and reaction time. Sleep deprivation is similar to alcohol intoxication especially when it comes to driving ability.

Emotional effects
While we tend to focus on the physical and mental symptoms of sleep deprivation, there are also important emotional symptoms of sleep deprivation. Emotional distress can take a brutal toll on our personal relationships and safety. Some emotional problems associated with sleep deprivation are:

* Increased mood swings and anxiety.

* A more pessimistic or negative attitude.

* Excessive sadness and even depression.

* Excessive anger. Sleep deprivation has actually been indicated to be one of the major causes of road rage.

It's important to remember that not everyone needs the same amount of sleep. You should, however, mean to try to get enough sleep to make yourself feel rested; this may even mean getting more than 8 hours. If you're getting a lot of sleep but still feeling fatigued,not feeling rested, you may have a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome, and you should see a doctor. You may even have a sleep partner who has the sleep disorder but it is keeping you from getting a decent night's sleep!

So make time for a good night's sleep. 8-9 hours a night is essential for your health and long-term weight management. And if you are having difficulty sleeping, look for help with your physician's guidance. There is medication, supplements, devices and much more to give you a healthy 40 winks each and every night.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Pamela Avery, the Natural MD, is a board-certified physician and specialist of over 30 years in the management of pain through natural methods. She offers free articles, weekly newsletters and online classes in nutragenetics, nutrition, supplements, stress reduction, exercise and restorative sleep. She has developed an innovative lifestyle system for chronic pain entitled "Live Pain Free! 6 Steps to a Pain Free Life." It can be accessed at http://www.drpamavery.com Her free special report, "Vitamins - Who Needs Them", as well as her E-zine, "Natural Solutions", can be accessed at www.the-natural-md.com