Have you been sleeping enough? Studies show that most of us no longer do get enough sleep. As a society, we have been sleeping 2 hours less than people did a hundred years ago. Whether it’s because of work, the kids, or house chores that never seem to get done, there’s no denying that we have been sleeping less than we should. Stimulation in the form of TV and the Internet also keep us awake longer than we should be. This is not a good thing because sleep deprivation takes its toll on the body. Sooner or later, you’ll feel the consequences of not getting enough sleep.
Sleep deprivation affects your health in serious ways. For instance, it impairs your ability to handle stress, think quickly on your feet, and manage your emotions. It increases your irritability, makes you prone to depression, and may cause slurring in your speech. It also weakens your immune system. That’s why the less often you get quality sleep the more often you’ll get sick for no obvious reason.
Simply put, sleep is very important to your overall well-being. How important? In one study, lab rats that were not allowed to rest died within a three-week period. Not surprisingly, sleep deprivation has been linked to a wide variety of conditions and diseases, including obesity, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and traffic and workplace accidents. As if these are not alarming enough, statistics show that lack of sleep is far more dangerous than most of us realize.
1. One out of every five injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents is due to driver fatigue. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine estimates that on any given day, at least 80,000 drivers fall asleep behind the wheel resulting in approximately 250,000 accidents on the road. If you have not had much sleep the night before and you feel drowsy while you’re driving, pull off the road and nap for 15 to 20 minutes. You’ll be surprised how much more alert this can make you.
2. Researchers in New Zealand and Australia reported in a study that being sleep deprived can feel a lot like being drunk. People who drive after spending 17 to 19 hours awake drove worse than those whose blood alcohol level is 0.5 percent, the legal drunk driving limit for Australia and most countries in Western Europe.
3. Continuous muscle activity without proper sleep can result in cramping. In extreme cases of sleep deprivation, the muscles could tear.
4. Prolonged lack of sleep leads to obesity. Your body tries to make up for the lack of rest by increasing your food intake.
5. Another study shows that medical residents who sleep less than four hours a night make twice as many errors as those who get more than seven hours of sleep nightly.
Getting enough sleep is crucial to your physical and mental health, so sleep when you should be sleeping. Keep in mind that sleep deprivation is not only dangerous, it can actually kill.