Getting a good night sleep is essential to your overall physical and mental well-being. The effects of a lack of sleep are apparent – feeling tired, grumpy, and unable to focus. Despite these adverse effects, one in three people suffers from inadequate sleep.
A lack of sleep can do more than make you groggy. One study shows that missed sleep can lead to the loss of brain cells. A lack of sleep may also cause irreversible injury to the brain. These studies were done on mice, and have yet to completed on humans, but we all know that we feel much better when we have had enough sleep and feel crummy when we don’t have enough. Here are some of the other ways that a lack of sleep over time can damage your health.
Lack of Sleep Can Cause Obesity
By regularly getting fewer than 5 hours of sleep a night, you place yourself at higher risk for obesity. It’s all in the hormones. The hunger-inducing hormone ghrelin is present in higher amounts with people who suffer from lack of sleep. In contrast, they also have lower levels of the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin. Both of these effects result in a 50% higher risk of obesity.
Increased Risk for Dementia
People who do not get enough sleep are at a 33% greater risk of developing dementia. They can also suffer from other brain effects like depression, irritability, anxiety, and forgetfulness.
Suppresses Your Immune System
If you seem to catch every bug that comes along or suffer more than everyone else during cold and flu season, maybe your sleep schedule is to blame. Your immune system refreshes when you sleep, so getting a good night’s sleep is essential to keeping the germs at bay.
Increases Risk of Being in a Car Accident
In a study that tested sleep-deprived people in a driving simulator or tested their hand-eye-coordination, sleep-deprived people performed as bad or worse than intoxicated people. Other statistics show that 6,000 fatal car crashes each year are due to drowsy driving.
So, How Much Sleep Do I Need?
The answer can vary for this question. Of course, the younger a person is the more sleep that they require. Newborns need between 12 to 18 hours of sleep per night. By the time they are a teenager, the necessary amount of sleep lessens to 8.5 to 9.5 hours. Adults need somewhere in between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night; however, this can vary from adult to adult. Some adults feel wholly refreshed after seven hours, whereas others need a full nine hours of sleep. Losing sleep due to environment, sickness, poor sleep habits, and other causes can add to the amount of required sleep.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, speak with your doctor. They can often recommend healthy sleep habits and if needed, prescription medication to help you get the sleep your body needs. And if you have night-owl habits or suffer from insomnia, ask your doctor about good sleep hygiene to maximize the benefits of sleep.