Sleep is More Important than You May Think

Did you know, to remain optimally healthy and productive, the average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night? Not getting enough sleep can have noticeable effects on one’s mental and physical health. So even though it may seem like a beneficial idea to not sleep the night before an organic chemistry exam in order to study longer, the body’s long-term effects may prove otherwise.


Some of the effects of sleep deprivation include lack of motivation, fatigue, hindered concentration and memory, impaired motor skills, weakened immune system, and slower reaction times. Being sleep deprived has the ability to affect you as much as being drunk.


In response to not getting enough sleep, your body’s productivity, weight, mood, and energy levels may be diminished. Even though one may feel like they can suffice by getting 5 hours of sleep every night, one really needs to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep every night to remain optimally functional.


Here are some common myths about sleep:

Myth: Getting just one hour less sleep per night won’t affect your daytime functioning.


Fact: You may not be noticeably sleepy during the day but losing even one hour of sleep can affect your ability to think properly and respond quickly. It also compromises your cardiovascular health, energy balance, and ability to fight infections.


Myth: Your body adjusts quickly to different sleep schedules.


Fact: Most people can reset their biological clock, but only by appropriately timed cues—and even then, by one or two hours per day at best. Consequently, it can take more than a week to adjust after traveling across several time zones or switching to the night shift.


Myth: You can make up for lost sleep during the week by sleeping more on the weekends.


Fact: Although this sleeping pattern will help relieve part of a sleep debt, it will not completely make up for the lack of sleep. Furthermore, sleeping later on the weekends can affect your sleep-wake cycle so that it is much harder to go to sleep at the right time on Sunday nights and get up early on Monday mornings.


Source: Your Guide to Healthy Sleep, The National Institutes of Health


Some quick tips to help get the recommended amount of sleep includes developing a nighttime routine before bed that excludes cell phone usage, reading with electronic devices, and napping late at night. Naps that are taken during the afternoon for 15-20 minutes are appropriate but if you feel the need to take many naps throughout the day to stay awake, your body may be telling you that you need to sleep more. These tips apply to weekends also because sleeping in during these days off may further disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake rhythm.