By Dr. Lisa Shives
Although you may think there is little harm in skimping on sleep during the busy periods in your life, there may be severe consequences for missing out on sleep for even just one night.
Research shows that failing to get the sleep you need can negatively affect both your mental and physical well-being. Sleep deprivation is associated with increases in the risk of heart disease, weight gain, diabetes, stroke, cancer and even death. A lack of sleep can also result in decreased mental functioning, slower reaction times and mood disturbance.
According to the Huffington Post, new research published in the journal Sleep shows that people’s accuracy on working memory tasks decreased by approximately 15 percent after staying up all night. While you sleep, your brain processes information. If you fail to get the sleep you need, your brain is incapable of storing important data that you obtained during the day.
Results of another study published in the journal Sleep shows that ‘recovery sleep’ or sleeping in on the weekend may not eliminate the effects of sleep loss. Findings of the study show that it takes multiple nights to obtain full relief from extended periods of sleep deprivation. This means that if you skip a few hours of sleep, your performance at school or work could suffer for several days.
It is a well known fact that most Americans are not getting the sleep they need. The Seattle Times recently reported that in a Working Mother survey, 77 percent of mothers said they don’t get the shut-eye they need. A survey by Men’s Health showed that 62 percent of participants said they manage on less than seven hours of sleep a night.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that adults sleep between seven and eight hours each night in order to function at their fullest potential. Some warning signs that you may not be getting enough sleep include dependence on an alarm clock in the morning, forgetfulness and an increase in sickness.
Copyright 2011, Dr. Lisa Shives
Dr. Shives works with SleepBetter.org to provide a medical view of sleep issues. She is one of only a few practitioners with a fellowship in Sleep Medicine in addition to board certification by both the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Sleep Medicine.