Sleep restores the balance

When we sleep, there's a series of physiological changes aimed at restoring balance in the body and psyche. When someone suffers from sleep deprivation the recovery isn't as complete as it should be. Sleep deprivation therefore leads to a slightly increased risk of illness and shortened lifespan. The risk is moderate, but it's there. Extremely short (less than 4 hours), extremely long (more than 11 hours) or extremely poor sleep is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. In many cases it's suspected that the illness is causing insomnia, rather than the reverse, but there are also many examples on how too little sleep can lead to a person becoming ill.

The immune system weakens

One example is infectious disease – the immune system is weakened by lack of sleep. You produce, among other things, fewer antibodies after vaccination if you don't get enough sleep afterwards. Disturbed sleep also increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The reasons are several, but one seems to be that the insulin regulation of blood sugar is affected.

Burnout and depression

Burnout is almost always preceded by considerably reduced sleep, usually a high degree of sleep fragmentation and a large deficit in deep sleep. It seems that the exposure to prolonged stress causes a sleep disorder in which disturbs recovery. Something similar applies to depression.

Earlier it was believed that the sleep disorder that is a hallmark of depression was a symptom. Now several research results suggests that disturbed sleep is one of the causes of depression. For example, disturbed sleep increases the risk of new episodes of depression, and treatment of sleep disorders with cognitive behavioral therapy quickly leads to a reduction in depression symptoms.