It’s almost trendy to flash a list of all the tasks you were able to accomplish in one day with “only five hours of sleep”. Most people can relate to feeling like their schedules are slammed with work, school, family, extracurricular activities, etc. In return, we resort to organizing our day by making sleep our LAST priority, if one at all.
In a world of caffeine, stress, and serious ambition, it’s truly possible to sacrifice a healthy amount of sleep. But, what happens if our bodies don’t get enough sleep over a long period of time?
BASIC CONCENTRATION ABILITIES
In order to have high-functioning cognitive abilities, you NEED sleep. Your brain can’t be on the go all day, every day, without time to rest. Sleep is directly linked to how your brain functions. Without it, you will struggle with concentration, productivity, and overall cognition.
For example, driving while drowsy is a result of reduced cognitive function. It’s a serious danger to yourself and others! 1-4% of all highway crashes are due to sleepiness. This is totally preventable when enough sleep is allotted in your schedule.
RISK OF WEIGHT GAIN
Although research doesn’t show a direct link between sleep deprivation and obesity, it does show that a lifestyle without proper sleep may lead to weight gain.
Lack of sleep can lead to hormone imbalances, a lack of motivation to exercise, increased alcohol consumption (drinking calories), increased daily calorie consumption, etc.
So, the path to weight gain may not be direct, but it’s certainly there.
LESS SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my morning coffee.” This translates to: “I will struggle to be kind, patient, or tolerable of other people until I have enough energy to do so.”
Social skills go down the drain without enough sleep! People who lack adequate amounts of sleep are less likely to read other people’s emotions and expressions accurately. Also, research has shown that people’s emotional empathy is considerably less without getting enough sleep.
WEAKER IMMUNE SYSTEM
Have you noticed that your body gets sick more often than it used to? It may be because you’re not allowing your body the time to heal and fight illnesses! Getting enough sleep may be just what it takes to prevent the common cold.
GREATER RISK OF HEART DISEASE AND STROKE
If the body doesn’t get enough sleep each night, high blood pressure may result, and it could even turn chronic. Sleep helps the body’s blood pressure to regulate itself. Getting enough sleep can reduce chances of sleep apnea (a potentially serious sleep disorder) and other heart disorders
BENEFITS OF GETTING MORE SLEEP
Making the little changes in your day to day life that allows more sleep in your schedule could really help you feel your best! Getting enough sleep strengthens your cognitive abilities, helping you pay closer attention to detail.
Your weight may become easier to manage with more sleep! Don’t forget that an important factor of gaining a healthy metabolism is sleep.
Your family, friends, and coworkers will notice a difference in your social capabilities if you make enough time to catch those Z’s regularly.
The common cold and other forms of bacteria out there will have to fight a lot harder to get you sick when your body is equipped with a good night’s rest. Your immune system would be so much healthier!
You may even be able to avoid or decrease your chances of dealing with high blood pressure with enough sleep. Do what you can to get those extra naps in!
TIPS TO HELP FALL ASLEEP FASTER
- Limit screen time
- Have a bedtime routine
- Use cooler temperatures at night
- Get sunlight and be active during the day
- Limit naps to 20 minutes and earlier than 3 pm
- Get regular exercise, but earlier than 2-3 hours before bedtime
- Avoid heavy meals late in the day
- Read a book or listen to soft music
- Write in a journal
- Look into occasional sleep support supplements to support your sleep
THE BOTTOM LINE
Get more sleep! The National Institute of Health suggests that the following age groups meet these sleep requirements per day:
- Newborns: 16-18 hours
- Preschool-aged children: 11-12 hours
- School-aged children: At least 10 hours
- Teens: 9-10 hours
- Adults 18+ (Including the elderly): 9-10 hours
Next time you’re telling others about how much you accomplished that day, perhaps try to brag that you did it all WITH 9 hours of sleep. You’ll sound more organized, healthier, and your body will thank you for it.