Insomnia and other sleep disorders affect millions of Americans every year. A lack of sleep or poor sleep quality can do more than leave us feeling tired. It can impact our physical health, instigate or aggravate mental illnesses, and can even affect sexual health.

Mental Function is Impaired

If you’ve ever gone without sleep, you know that being overly tired can inhibit your ability to think straight. In fact, cognitive function is affected in a variety of ways by a lack of good sleep. When an individual doesn’t get 7-8 hours of quality sleep, he or she may lose the ability to concentrate or to think coherently, while problem solving skills and the ability to reason can be severely limited. At the very least, your attention span will be compromised, and you’ll be less alert than usual.

Your Sex Life Will Likely Suffer

In studies on the effects of insufficient sleep on sexual behavior, researchers found that sexual libido was significantly impacted. Subjects lost interest in sex and lacked the desire to get aroused. Because insufficient sleep often means an increase in stress, the lack of interest in sex may stem from poor energy levels and abnormally high tension levels. Additionally, a 2002 study found that sleep apnea in men resulted in low testosterone levels, contributing to lower sex drives.

Less Sleep Means Heightened Depression

Depression is more prevalent in individuals who get less than six hours of sleep per night, indicating that the two conditions are strongly linked. A 2007 research project sampled 10,000 subjects and found that those who suffered from insomnia had five times greater risk of developing depression.

Insomnia can be a trigger for depression. The lack of sleeping married with depression creates a vicious cycle in which the two conditions are perpetuated by one another. As you continue to lose sleep, you are more likely to become depressed. Those feelings cause the tension that keeps you from relaxing and falling asleep. Without treatment, insomnia and depression will continue to worsen.

Weight Gain is Linked to Insomnia

People who get less than six hours of sleep per night are more likely to become obese. When sleep is inhibited, the peptides that tell the brain that the body is full don’t function properly and appetite is not inhibited. Conversely, ghrelin, another peptide responsible for regulating hunger, is increased in insomniacs, causing those individuals to overeat.

Sleep Disorders Lead to Poor Heart Health

Heart-related problems are also prominently observed in those who suffer from a lack of sleep. A lack of sleep or poor quality of sleep makes people more likely to develop a heart condition. One study found that those suffering from insomnia were 90% more likely to be suffering from another health condition.

Among common conditions affecting the heart that stem from a lack of sleep include irregular heartbeats, heart attack, heart failure, and high blood pressure. Additionally, a lack of sleep makes individuals more prone to experiencing a stroke or developing diabetes.

A Lack of Sleep Speeds Up Aging

We all know that one night of poor sleep can lead to baggy eyes and an overall worn appearance but those symptoms worsen over time. As an individual develops a chronic sleep disorder, skin can lose its healthy glow, develop lines and wrinkles, and worsen those dark circles around the eyes.

While one bad night may just be an inconvenience, an ongoing problem can affect every aspect of your physical and mental health. Even if you need to seek professional treatment, resolving your sleep issues may end up saving your life and slow your aging process.