A couple of days ago I stumbled upon an article about the productivity and health risks of sleep deprivation (something I’m guilty of myself, for quite some time already), and today I just want to share what I’ve learned in that article with you.
The (Very) Real Dangers of Sleep Deprivation
A study from the University of Rochester found that only when you’re asleep, your brain can adequately remove toxic proteins from its neurons that are the by-products of neural activities when you’re awake.
So when you don’t get enough sleep, the toxic proteins remain in your brain cells. Any short-term productivity gains from skipping sleep to work are canceled out, and then some, by the detrimental effects on your mood, ability to focus and access to higher-level brain functions. It slows down your ability to process information and solve problems, and kills your creativity. It also impairs your ability to control your emotions and remain calm under pressure.
The negative effects of sleep deprivation are so great that people who are DRUNK outperform those lacking sleep!!
Being sleep-deprived is also linked to a number of serious HEALTH problems such as heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes and obesity. The body produces excess cortisol – the stress hormone – when it’s sleep-deprived. Higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream have been shown to cause higher blood pressure, decrease in muscle tissue, decreased bone density and blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia. It also wreaks havoc on your immune system and makes you look older, because it breaks down skin collagen – the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic.
Not sleeping enough also makes you overweight. When you sleep less you have more difficulty burning the calories you consume. Sleep deprivation also makes you hungrier by increasing the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin and makes it harder for you to get full by reducing the levels of the satiety-inducing hormone leptin. For men, not sleeping enough reduces testosterone levels and sperm count.
How Many Hours Should You Sleep?
As a rule of thumb, you would need SEVEN to NINE hours of sleep a night to feel sufficiently rested. Few people are at their best with less than seven hours of sleep, and few require more than nine without an underlying health condition. Age is also a factor, with children generally needing more sleep than adults. Of course it also depends on how you feel with a certain amount of sleep.
Read my follow-up piece: How to get Better Quality Sleep