Sleep isn’t just something that prevents you from feeling tired; it’s a core bodily function, like breathing, that keeps you alive and functioning at your best. Without enough sleep, just about every aspect of your daily experience will suffer in a range of very real and very concerning ways. Even worse, sustained periods with inadequate sleep can lead to serious long-term physical and mental health consequences.
How Much Sleep Do I Need?
While the exact figure can change slightly depending on the individual, most adults require 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Without this, it’ll be impossible for anyone to function at their best.
Day-to-Day Effects of Sleep
When it’s well-rested, the brain is alert and prepared to process information. In a practical sense, this means that you’ll be focused and motivated throughout your day. Solving problems and completing tasks will be relatively easy, and if unexpected issues arise, you’ll be more than ready to tackle them head-on.
Conversely, after a sleepless night, the brain is far more prone to making mistakes and falling victim to errors in judgement. Plus, a lack of sleep impacts your reaction times too, leaving you feeling sluggish and ‘detached’ from reality. In high-pressure work situations, this can present a serious risk to safety for you and your colleagues alike. Workplace mistakes are common among sleep deprived people, and they can lead to damage, injury or even death.
Long-Term Effects of Sleep
Sleep doesn’t just leave you feeling alert and prepared; getting consistent rest is also key to ensuring a number of crucial bodily functions are carried out successfully. Going without sleep can hinder these functions, putting your health in jeopardy in the process.
When you’re asleep, your body works to heal your heart and blood vessels, reducing your risk of developing heart disease, stroke or high blood pressure. Additionally, lack of sleep has been linked to increased insulin resistance too, meaning that sleep deprived individuals are more prone to developing diabetes too.
Proper rest also helps your brain regulate ghrelin and leptin, your hunger hormones. When these are out of balance, you’ll be compelled to snack throughout the day and eat more than usual at mealtimes. Over time, this can have a serious impact on your health. Lack of sleep has been linked to an increase in obesity, and these two hormones are a large part of the reason why.
Even your immune system relies on sleep to function properly. Chronic sleep deprivation can hinder your body’s ability to fight off even relatively simple infections and pathogens.
In today’s performance-focused society, it’s common to hear people boast about their lack of rest, claiming 6, 5 or even 4 hours of sleep per night. Those people are harming themselves in more ways than they realise, and it’s in your best interest to ignore them and get the sleep you need. The phrase “work smarter, not harder” comes to mind here. For both your everyday quality of life and your long-term health, it’s so important that you get your shut-eye.
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