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What happens when you don't sleep?

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Quick Answer

Lack of sleep causes several negative physical and mental health consequences, including harm to cognitive processes such as learning and memory, lower libido, aging of skin, weight gain and impaired judgment, according to WebMD. Sleep deficiencies also contribute to depression and are associated with increased risk for serious health conditions.

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Sleep deficiency may increase the risk for diabetes, since it is associated with a higher blood sugar level than normal, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Lack of sleep weakens the immune system, and the body is less able to fight common infections.

Since sleep in children and teens aids in development, sleep deficiency may lead to insufficient social and behavioral development. Lack of sleep in young people can lead to difficulty getting along with others, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Sleep-deprived children may experience anger, mood swings or other emotional issues.

Lack of adequate sleep causes episodes of microsleep, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Microsleep refers to a brief moment of sleep that occurs when one is normally awake. An example of microsleep and its potential danger is falling asleep while driving a vehicle. According to the American Psychological Association, at least 100,000 crashes happen in the United States each year as a result of the driver falling asleep.

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