A single night of poor sleep can leave you feeling cranky and unmotivated. You may be too tired to work efficiently, to exercise, or to eat healthfully. And over time, continued sleep deprivation raises the risk for a number of chronic health problems, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Insufficient sleep can also leave you more vulnerable to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. There’s even some evidence that insufficient sleep makes your more prone to the common cold if you’re exposed to the cold virus.
Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss …from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts . PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.
Close Thanks for visiting. Don’t miss your FREE gift.
3 ways to build brain-boosting social connections
Sleep experts say we should get at least seven hours of slumber each night. But as many as one in three Americans routinely sleeps for less than six hours—a trend that can have serious health ramifications.
Level of health literacy affects treatment choice for slow-growing prostate cancer
Ban on harmful pesticide: What parents need to know
Wondering about COVID-19 vaccines if you’re breastfeeding?
In rare cases, insufficient sleep can even more dangerous. A sleep shortfall can lead to daytime drowsiness and “microsleeps.” Microsleeps are brief bouts of sleep that occur during the day that usually last just a few seconds. If you’ve ever briefly nodded off while sitting through a lecture, you’ve experienced a microsleep. They usually last just a few seconds but can go on for 10 or 15 seconds—and pose a grave danger if they happen while you’re driving.
Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health , plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, health articles about sleep diet and exercise , pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.
Close Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School
The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness , is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School
Tooth loss truth: It’s no longer about the tooth fairy
BONUS! Sign up now and get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness
During a microsleep, your brain does not respond to noise or other sensory inputs, and you don’t react to things happening around you. Because people are poor judges of when microsleeps will occur , they’re a major factor in many motor vehicle accidents. One in 24 American drivers admitted to falling asleep while driving at least once in the previous month, according to a government report. The National Department of Transportation estimates that each year, drowsy driving is responsible for 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 nonfatal injuries in the United States.
– By Julie Corliss Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
Close Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.
So how do you combat insuficient sleep? The best solution is to figure out how many hours of sleep are right for you and then stick with it—even on weekends, holidays, and vacations. Basic lifestyle changes that promote sleep can also help. Exercise, avoiding caffeine, and practicing good sleep hygiene are some of the ways to get your best rest.
A different nonhormonal birth control option

The health articles about sleep health hazards of insufficient sleep
The health articles about sleep health hazards of insufficient sleep
Twitter Linkedin YouTube My Account Customer Service Log in Order Now Online Learning Courses Digital Subscriptions Special Health Reports Print Subscriptions More About Us Permissions Licensing Topics © 2021 by The President and Fellows of Harvard College
Unvaccinated and misunderstood? Let’s talk
Share this page to Twitter Share this page via Email Print This Page Click to Print Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician. health care articles 2021