We hear the phrase 'a good night's sleep' bandied about fairly often, but what exactly is the ideal amount of sleep we should be having, and what happens if we don't get enough?
According to health professionals, the recommendation for an adequate night's sleep is somewhere between seven and nine hours a night, but many of us are falling far short of this.
Stress, late night TV and blue light in the bedroom are all things that work against us in the quest for the perfect slumber. Without the right amount of shut-eye, it can affect a whole range of day-to-day skills and cause more serious health concerns if not corrected.
It affects your driving
We hear about how dangerous it can be to drive while tired, and in actual fact, sleep deprivation can have the same effect as being drunk. The reaction times of a drowsy person are about the same rate as that of a drunk driver. It's little wonder fatigue and micro-sleeps are the cause of tens of thousands of auto crashes a year.
It affects your ability to work
The body's ability to process thoughts, react and problem-solve all rest on how much sleep you've had the night before. If you come to work tired, it's not only harder to focus on the job at hand, but you're prone to make silly mistakes because your brain isn't functioning as well as it would with the recommended hours of sleep. Studies show sleep loss and poor-quality sleep also lead to accidents and injuries on the job.
It dumbs you down
That feeling of not functioning with all cylinders after a restless night is not just a feeling... it's a reality. Sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning. A lack of sleep hurts these cognitive processes and impairs our attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning and problem solving. A lack of sleep can also make you forgetful. The brain consolidates memories and information during in your deepest level of sleep, so if you're not achieving that deep sleep, it can affect your memory.
It causes serious health problems
A lack of sleep is damaging to your health and can lead to a disrupted metabolism and raised levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. According to studies, a lack of sleep is linked to an increase in hunger and appetite, and people who sleep less than six hours a day have a heightened risk of obesity over people who enjoy a full night's rest. It can also put you at risk for some really serious medical conditions including heart disease, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke and diabetes.
It ages you
As if we weren't battling enough with the factors of gravity and time, a lack of sleep can also age your skin! Most people have experienced sallow skin and puffy eyes after a few nights of missed sleep, but a chronic sleep loss can lead to fine lines, dark circles and an accelerated breakdown of natural skin collagen.
Are you convinced? Time to turn the TV off, put the book down, and try to catch a few extra minutes of Zzzz's tonight.
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