How Your Sleep Routine Could Be Slowly Killing You

A person stoppngi their alarm clock with the title "How Your Sleep Routine Could Be Slowly Killing You"

Do you feel like you get enough quality sleep? If the answer is “no”, you’re not alone.

survey conducted by the National Institutes of Health reported that about 30% of adults get an average of less than six hours of sleep per night.

That means that one third of the population isn’t getting enough sleep!

The recommendation for adults is 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Children need even more – about 10 hours a night. Kids are at risk of being under-rested too. A measly 30% of teenagers reported getting the required 8 hours.

This is such a serious problem that the CDC considers American’s lack of sleep to be a public health concern. It can be downright dangerous. Sleep deprivation can contribute to accidents, and leads to a multitude of diseases and mental disorders.

Lack of sleep is serious business. Let’s take a look at what can go wrong if you aren’t getting enough Zzz’s.

1. Lack of Sleep Affects Your Brain’s Ability to Function Properly

It’s no wonder that you don’t feel ready to take on the world after a poor night’s sleep. Science has proven that your brain just doesn’t work well when you haven’t gotten enough rest.

Using stimulants like caffeine to make you feel more awake and alert isn’t enough to compensate for this.

Aside from affecting your working memory and cognition, sleep deprivation slows your reaction times. If you’re operating a vehicle or working in a potentially hazardous environment, these slowed reactions could cause you or someone else to be injured or killed.

A yawning woman.

2. Sleep Deprivation Can Make You an Emotional Wreck

Studies show that being sleep deprived makes it more difficult to keep a hold on your emotions.

This happens because the amygdala, which is a part of the brain that helps take care of processing your emotions, actually causes emotional overreactions when you don’t get enough sleep.

3. Not Catching Enough Zzz’s Contributes to Cardiovascular Problems

Sleep deprivation increases your risk of cardiovascular issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

In fact, one study on 45 people showed that those who slept less than six hours per night were twice as likely to suffer from a heart attack or stroke.

Other research has shown that this risk may also be higher in kids who don’t get enough sleep. Teaching healthy sleep habits early in life is one of the best ways you can ensure that your children live long and healthy.

A doctor examining a person's blood pressure.

4. Your Immune System May Be Impaired

When you’re tired, so is your immune system.

Sleep deprivation can actually suppress the cell activity necessary for your immune system to do its job. This means it’s more likely you’ll get sick.

Not getting enough sleep also impairs your body’s ability to fight off infections when you have caught a nasty bug.

5. Lack of Sleep is Linked to Mental Disorders

Remember how we talked about how sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality could have an adverse effect on your emotions? Well the mental impact can be far more serious than a hissy fit or three.

There’s a correlation between sleep deprivation and in increased risk of clinical depression and anxiety.

A very depressed young girl.

6. There’s a Correlation Between Lack of Sleep and Obesity

Sleep deprivation can potentially affect your whole body. Science has shown that not getting enough rest may even make you fat.

One study showed that women who got less than five hours of sleep per night were at a 15% higher risk of becoming obese.

There are several ideas about why this may be the case. For one, exhaustion may lead to a lack of exercise and an increase in calories consumed. The hormones that control appetite are affected by lack of sleep, and that may contribute to the additional weight gain.

Get Some Sleep!

Since you know now how bad lack of sleep can be for your body and your mind, it’s time to start working on improving your nighttime habits. Best of luck!

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