“Sleepless in America”, a documentary co-produced by National Geographic Channel, told us that a huge population of America is sleep deprived. An average worker in his mid-20s only gets at least 5 hours of sleep per night. What’s surprising is adolescents are also among those who sleep less.
Though it isn’t evident right now, the consequence for the lack of sleep can be dire. Aside from that not getting enough sleep, it might also be dangerous for the people around him. Most people don’t give a lot of thought and importance to sleeping right, but there are lethal consequences to it. Do you remember the Exxon Valdez oil spill incident? Or the ferry crash in Staten Island? Countless people have lost their loved ones, including their very own lives because a captain of the ship dozed off, or a bus driver fell asleep on the road. A truck driver who fell asleep behind the wheel can also cause peril to the drivers around him.
According to doctors and scientists, obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer can all be linked to sleep deprivation. It is important for you to know that your cognitive function is significantly reduced when you don’t sleep right. Anxiety is also an effect of sleep deprivation.
Syncing in with nature to promote proper sleep is very important. A natural exposure of sunlight in the day and the exposure of the darkness at night is one component that you should be very mindful of. It is explained that we humans have a master clock called circadian rhythm. Exposing ourselves to the sun activates our suprachiasmatic nuclei. These nuclei is responsible for regulating the light-dark cycle of our rhythm. One major cause of why people get so little sleep, or have poor sleeping habits is because of a disruption on your body clock – Some people shield themselves indoors during the day, and others stay under bright artificial lights at night. Restorative sleep becomes elusive when the body gets out of sync with the daylight and night time’s natural rhythm.
To broaden how sleeping less than 8 hours affects your body, here are major risks that can affect your mental and physical health:
- Slower Reaction Time – for those laborers who work in constructions, mining, or even driving, the reaction time of an individual who lacks sleep is tremendously decreased. This puts these workers in danger, especially in their line of work.
- Short Term Memory and Long Term Memory Suffers – College students today are also one of those who are sleep deprived. Some may be due to extra-curricular reasons. But whatever the reason may be, short term and long term memory is affected. There is a report on sleep deprived medical interns that they are more likely to self-inflict needles pricks, scalpel stabs, and miss out on a step of a medical procedure.
- Memory and Learning Decreases – brain growth also relies on your neuroplasticity. In order to have a properly functioning brain, you need to sleep more as loss of sleep modifies your genotype that is vital in synaptic plasticity.
- Heightened Emotions – Because your cognition and reaction time has slowed down, your emotions will take over. This means you are more likely to encounter an argument or a misunderstanding with a colleague, a friend, a family member, or your spouse. Your frontal cortex plays a part in the regulation of your emotions. And if you don’t give it the proper rest it deserves, it’s going to have a weaker connection to your amygdala – the part of the brain responsible for anger and fear.
- Health and Immune Function Deteriorates – This explains why an increased risk of health issues and chronic diseases are tied to lack of sleep. According to research, sleeping for less than 8 hours increases your risk of high blood pressure. The effects of sleep deprivation is just like getting sick or feeling stressed.
You need around 8 hours of sleep at night. If you think you are doing fine with less, then you are fooling yourself.