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Not getting enough sleep every night can have serious consequences for your body and brain health.

Not getting enough sleep every night can have serious consequences for your body and brain health.

Too often people treat sleep as a luxury rather than the necessity that it is. Getting seven to eight hours of rest each night is critically important for your body and brain health, and dismissing that fact and opting for fewer hours of sleep can have serious consequences for your overall well-being.

WebMD has compiled a list of the most harmful dangers posed by sleep deprivation. Here are three of them:

  • Accident risks: Sleep deprivation has been an infamous contributor to some of the worst disasters in history — such as the nuclear accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl and the Exxon Valdez oil spill. But sleep loss and subsequent drowsiness are also responsible for 100,000 car crashes each year, including 1,550 deaths, and significant numbers of workplace accidents and reported sick days.
  • Health problems: Not getting adequate amounts of sleep each night can lead to serious health risks, including — but not limited to — heart disease, heart failure, heart attacks, diabetes, stroke, irregular heartbeats and high blood pressure. This is an incredibly common side effect. In fact, 90 percent of people who suffer from insomnia report having a second health condition as well.
  • Impaired cognitive functions: Missing out on enough sleep can actually have a "dumbing down" effect on your brain. Sleep deprivation negatively impacts attention, concentration, reasoning, alertness and problem solving skills — hampering your ability for thinking, learning and processing information efficiently. Additionally, sleep loss can detrimentally affect memory support. "Various sleep cycles play a role in 'consolidating memories in the mind," writes Camille Peri of WebMD. "If you don't get enough sleep, you won't be able to remember what you learned and experienced during the day."

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