As I get older, I realize that being adult really consists of being tired all the time but still having so much stuff left to do. I’m not sure if I’m losing energy or I’m now gaining more responsibilities that I can’t skip out on if I want to sleep — I miss college! — but, either way, it’s exhausting. Between working 9+ hours a day, commuting, making dinner, and exercising, I hardly have time for anything fun (or even productive) before it’s time to go to sleep so I can do it again the next day. This struggle, which is real, is something that anyone going through major life events (moving, helping out with family, new job, new family member, planning a major event, etc.) can go through but the important thing to remember is not to try sacrificing sleep — like I did — in order to be more productive.
Different people need different amounts of sleep, but the average adult should get 7-9 hours a night. I know, it sounds ludicrous and like you’d never get anything done, but doing so actually makes you more productive, alert, and can even stave off weight gain. But, when you have one million things to do, losing a couple of hours of sleep seems like nothing in comparison to being able to cross a few items off your to-do list, right? As it turns out, that couldn’t be more wrong. Studies show that getting less than 5 hours of sleep increases the risk of death by 15%! Reading that kind of makes you understand why sleep deprivation was once used as a form of torture, huh? Now, as a one sentence statistic, that might not seem too harsh. But let’s delve a little deeper into that to see how bad it can really get.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation #1: Oops, Did I Do That?!
We’re going to start with the obvious here — accidents! Being tired reduces your awareness and can also affect balance, coordination, and decision-making abilities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that every year, the U.S. averages approximately 56,000 crashes caused by what they’ve coined as “drowsy driving.” Of those accidents, 40,000 nonfatal injuries and 1,550 fatalities have resulted. And if you think this doesn’t matter because you don’t drive, lack of sleep can also affect job performance which increases risks of accidents at work as well as significantly lowering your cognitive abilities.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation#2: Just Keep Swimming
Remember Dory from Finding Nemo, and how she always forgot things? Well, maybe she just needed some sleep (how do fish sleep anyways?) As it turns out, studies show that sleep plays a key role in learning and memory functions, concentration, and reasoning. So losing sleep could be the reason why you don’t remember what you had for breakfast yesterday or when your boss assigned that task to you.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation #3: Sick As A Dog
I’m not sure where the phrase, “sick as a dog” came from because I’ve never seen a dog with a cold, but I do know it means that whomever it is being referred to is awfully sick. And losing sleep can be an important contributing factor! In fact, not only does losing sleep negatively affect your immune system, but it also puts you at a great risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation#4: Who’s The Fairest Of Them All?
We’re all familiar with the bags that form under your eyes when you’re tired. But lack of sleep also accelerates the aging process, makes skin more sensitive, and increases wrinkles and dryness. Apparently, “beauty sleep” is a real thing!
While those are only four of the major effects of sleep deprivation, the list is nearly endless! On top of all these things, losing sleep just makes me an unpleasant human being. I get cranky like a child without a nap and often find myself annoyed at simple things.
Whether it’s breakouts, grumpiness, or consistent yawning, what are ways your body tells you that you didn’t get enough sleep last night?
Need some help falling asleep? Check out this article: Eight Natural Ways to Beat Insomnia and Sleep Better Tonight