Be honest: are you getting enough sleep?
No, me neither.
It's not exactly surprising, since experts say that one in three people are sleep deprived.
In fact, sleep science says that even eight hours of rest isn't enough. Most adults between 25 and 65 should be aiming for nine hours.
That's a lot to ask of us in this busy world of ours, but there's a good reason to get some shut-eye.
If your body is sleep deprived, you can expect these 13 serious side effects:
1. Your heart suffers
Sleep does wonderful things for your body. It lowers your blood pressure and heart rate, and releases chemicals that reduce inflammation.
Without those effects, your risk of developing heart disease rises sharply.
That puts you at risk of other conditions, including deadly ones like a heart attack or stroke.
2. Your memory fails you
Your brain build memories by connecting related thoughts in two different parts of your mind using brainwaves.
This process mostly happens while you're asleep. So cutting back on rest makes it harder to remember anything.
Studies on mice also show that sleep helps remove toxic chemicals that damage your brain.
Over time, if this damage isn't kept in check, it could lead to dementia or Alzheimer's.
3. Your decision-making skills weaken
Like memories, the "cognitive procession" that helps you make important decisions relies on sleep.
The more tired you are, the longer and more difficult it is to make decisions.
Why does that matter? When you're sleep deprived, you tend to make bad decision about what you eat, how you spend your time, and even how much sleep you get.
It's a vicious cycle.
4. Your vision gets worse
Your eyes rely on muscles, just like the rest of your body, including a critical one that moves your eyes up, down, and side-to-side.
When you're really tired, you'll start to notice double vision and trouble reading things.
Sleep is called shut-eye for a reason. If you don't rest your eye muscles for long enough, you could permanently harm your vision.
5. You gain weight
How can sleep affect your waistline? Simple: a bad night's sleep leaves you hungry all day.
Getting less than seven hours of rest each night actually drains your body's supply of leptin, the chemical that makes you feel "full."
At the same time, your levels of ghrelin - which makes you crave fatty, sugary foods - rise the longer you stay awake.
6. Your risk of developing diabetes spikes
Along with weight gain and high blood pressure, which contribute to diabetes, a lack of sleep affects your body's chemical balance directly.
Sleep is important to process glucose, so when you go without it your blood sugar levels fall out of balance.
7. Your immune system fails
If you think sleep isn't a "priority" for good health, this should convince you otherwise.
A study found that getting under seven hours of sleep a night triples your risk of catching a cold.
That's because your body produces cytokines - which fight infections and colds - when you're asleep.
8. Your mood gets dark and gloomy
You don't just feel worn out when you're sleep deprived. Getting less sleep than you should actually has a noticeable effect on your mental health.
A survey of patients with depression and anxiety found that most of them get less than six hours of sleep a night.
Whether that's the cause of their symptoms or caused by their symptoms, there's no denying sleep is a serious mood-booster.
9. Your libido shrinks
A study of men with sleep apnea found that they had below-average testosterone levels, which lowered their sexual drive.
But female patients describe a similar drop in their mood when they're not well-rested.
If you and your partner aren't sleeping together, prioritize actually sleeping together.
10. You become less fertile
Couples trying to have a child should take note: sleeplessness doesn't just dampen the mood, it also makes it harder to conceive a child.
Both men and women produce less reproductive hormones when they're sleep deprived. So make sure you're not spending too many sleepless nights together.
11. Your chances of dying in a car accident spike
It sounds like a bad PSA, but it's true.
Thousands of people die from sleep-related car accidents every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In fact, sleep deprivation could account for 2% of all fatal car crashes in America.
This is because your comfy car seat is the perfect place for your body to nod off, leading to "micro sleep" incidents that are very dangerous.
12. Your motor skills suffer
Car accidents aren't the only thing to worry about.
If your family describes you as "klutzy," you might just be sleepy.
A lack of rest creates a delay between your brain and body, which leads you to trip and fall more often.
As we get older this is extremely dangerous, because even a "soft" fall can injure us.
13. Your skin gets damaged
It's not just about bags under your eyes.
Your body does most of its work repairing your skin - you guessed it - while you're asleep.
In fact, a study found that skin recovery was 30% higher among good sleepers, since they had a healthier balance of skin-restoring hormones like collagen.
Expect more breakouts and wrinkles if you're not getting at least seven hours a night.
How many hours a sleep a night do you get on average?
[H/T: NHS.uk, Cleveland Clinic]