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Want to Be Healthier? Get Enough Sleep!

On the average, we all spend about one-third of our lives asleep. But most of us probably spend most of the day wishing that we were asleep. That’s because studies show that only 11% of all Americans get quality sleep every night, and all the rest are sleep-deprived.

Too often, we sacrifice our sleeping hours due to hectic work schedules, active social lives or heavy course loads at school. Although we stay up late thinking that we can be more productive that way, the sleep deprivation actually creates negative effects on our mental, psychological and physical state.

Mental Effects

Have you ever tried working on a particularly mentally challenging problem after a late night? You’ll probably notice that you have difficulty concentrating on the problem at hand. In fact, studies show that students who are sleep-deprived have trouble keeping at a single task for 30 minutes straight.

In addition, sleep deprivation hinders our ability to memorize information. That’s why staying up too late to study for an exam can do little good if the student cannot remember the hastily memorized facts during the test.

Psychological Effects

Another effect of not getting enough sleep is experiencing mood swings. Going without sleep leaves some people irritable and easily provoked. Some people, on the other hand, experience a kind of hypomanic euphoria, an unexplained happiness that can last for hours. This could lead to silly behavior like giggling uncontrollably in public.

Studies also show that sleep deprivation causes a person’s motivation level to decrease. Even worse, those who constantly survive on a few hours of sleep every night are often more prone to depression.

Physical Effects

Sleep deprivation also negatively affects your physical health. Your immune system becomes weakened, which makes your body more prone to disease. Lack of sleep does not give your muscles enough time to repair, which causes decreased athletic performance. There are also studies that show that sleep deprivation has a troubling correlation with cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Aside from these, sleep deprivation decreases your driving ability. Did you know that there are about 100,000 accidents a year caused by sleep-deprived drivers, totaling 1,500 deaths? The reason is that sleep-deprived drivers may experience what is called as “micro-sleep,” which is a condition where people inadvertently fall asleep for a few seconds without even realizing it.

Over time, sleep deprivation will create a sleep debt, which your body must repay at some point. Although a nap can pay off the sleep debt, you’ll only add to the debt whenever you miss another hour of sleep. If you lose five hours of sleep every week, you’ll need to find time to pay it off in either five 1-hour naps, ten 30-minute naps or a sleep marathon of five hours. However, napping for that long could throw off your sleeping pattern, causing another sleepless night afterwards.

The best way to deal with sleep debt is to try not to have any at all. You should sleep the recommended length of time every night, which could be anything between five to eight hours.

If you want to begin living healthy, the first thing you must do is to get enough sleep every night. If you’re wondering how you can know whether you are sleep deprived or not, remember this: if you’re the type who fall asleep within 5 minutes of going to bed, then you’re most probably not getting enough sleep.

About Author
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