Getting just a few hours of sleep on weeknights and then cramming in twelve hours Saturday? You’re not alone. In fact, many parents and busy professionals are under the impression that they can skip on sleep now and make up for it later without affecting their health. But the reality is, making this a habit can do you more harm then good. Learn why below…
The Truth Behind a Lack of Sleep
What you may think is enough sleep is probably not enough. The average recommended amount of sleep is 7-9 hours a night. The truth is that more nights without sleep usual leads to more physical and mental issues that add up over time.
After a restless night, people report feelings of grogginess and slower reaction times, which leads to a less than efficient performance with their work. They are less focused and irritable, causing their body greater anxiety by increasing their stress hormones. Not only this, but the body tends to crave more sugar, caffeine, and eat more food in general when in a tired state.
The Effects of Sleep Deprivation
The effect of a lack of sleep can be felt immediately. Slacking for a day or two and then adding extra hours of sleep the following day or over the weekend may help balance out hours lost, but when sleep deprivation becomes a common occurrence, it is harder to rectify and the effects can be permanent.
In a study researchers found that after seven consecutive days without sleep a person’s genes could actually change. What does this mean? Not sleeping could put you at higher risk of stroke, heart problems, and obesity, among other things. Not getting a good night’s sleep can do more than just affect your performance, it also makes you less present with your relationships, cause you to be more forgetful and even lead to dementia.
Sleep Your Way to the Top
These are the words that Arianna Huffington has said countless times since writing her latest book Thrive. Her two cents on achieving success is directly related to making sleep a priority. In fact, she quotes sleep as her “miracle drug” and states in an article the following:
“The advice I would give to my younger self is very, very simple: get enough sleep and you will be more productive, more effective, and more likely to enjoy your life.”
This is coming from a woman who only slept for 2-5 hours a night in the first few years of growing The Huffington Post. When I listened to her speak at a conference last year, she spoke about her exhaustion and how one day she was standing in her living room and suddenly collapsed on the floor, hitting her head on a desk and breaking her cheek bone. The accident served as a “wake-up call,” she said.
This incident led her to create two nap rooms at the HuffPost headquarters, which she says are perpetually full. Talk about really making sleep a priority!
The conclusion? Sleep is a natural gateway for your brain and body to take proper rest and feel replenished for the following day. While you may feel better after “making up” for a couple nights of lost sleep the effects of regularly skipping sleep can cause short and long-term effects that are irreversible.
So perhaps, instead of burning yourself out due to a lack of sleep, you may consider adjusting your mindset around your priorities. When you gather up the will-power to make sleep a non-negotiable, it will more than likely work out in your favor and you’ll find yourself feeling more motivated and efficient in your day-to-day life. Mrs. Huffington even suggests getting a “thrive buddy” who you can keep you accountable and talk you out of any temptation to stay up or spend a few more hours on the computer.
Just like anything you put your mind to, progress, not perfection, will get you the results you desire!