How a Lack of Sleep Affects Your Body

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation


Being tired can impact your body in ways you’d never imagine.

You know that sleep is good for you. You also know that when you don’t get enough, you feel like a zombie. But there’s more going on when you don’t catch enough zzz’s than simply feeling tired. In fact, the ripple effects from shorting yourself on shut-eye reach almost every system in your body.

  • Stomach: On days following sleepless nights, you feel hungrier than usual and will crave high-fat, high-calorie foods.
  • Nose: Ah-choo! Your immune system goes downhill fast when you’re tired, meaning you’re likelier to catch a cold.
  • Eyes: Being tired does more than cause heavy eyelids. It can also cause you to feel more emotional, meaning tears are closer to the surface than normal.
  • Brain: When operating on little sleep, you’ll have a tougher time remembering things, feel less focused, and could even lose brain tissue. You might also suffer from slower reaction times, hallucinations, or even psychosis.
  • Heart: Your risk for high blood pressure and heart disease goes up after a period where you aren’t sleeping well.
  • Skin: Sleep is important for regulating body temperature, so not getting enough can make you feel cold all over.