The holidays are the most hectic, stressful time of the year for many people and it is easy to skip some sleep here and there in order to fit everything in. However, the more we learn about sleep, the clearer it becomes that this is a bad idea. In fact, if there is one thing you do this month to take care of yourself and reduce your stress, make it getting enough sleep. Adequate sleep not only makes it easier to deal with the stress and frustration you face each day, it also helps safeguard your health for the long term.
Sleep is Critical to Health
Recent advances in our understanding of sleep show that it is as important to good health as what you eat, how much exercise you get, and even whether or not you wear your seat belt. It is foundational to preserving our health in the short and long term.
Lack of Sleep Impairs Everything
There simply isn’t anything in your life that doesn’t suffer when you don’t get enough sleep. When you are over-tired your decision making abilities, reaction time, memory, ability to communicate, and capacity for learning are all compromised. What you may not realize is that this impairment can be as much as 50%.
Chronic Sleep Deprivation Contributes to Chronic Disease
Research has shown that getting less than 7 hours sleep a night increases the risk for chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain kinds of cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Being Overtired Impacts Your Appetite
Research has also shown that when people get less than four hours of sleep a night their cravings for foods that are high in fat increases. These people also consume about 500 calories more per day on average than those who do get the sleep they need every night. While that might not seem like that much, it only takes 3500 extra calories to gain a pound, which is about 1 week’s worth of extra calories at 500 calories a day.
Poor Sleep May Be Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease
One of the things that happens when your body is asleep is that toxic chemicals are cleared out. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, less of these chemicals and compounds are being removed. Research has shown that there is a protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease that builds up in the brain when you are awake. Experts have theorized that the build-up of this protein caused when we don’t get enough sleep may be the reason there is a link between sleep deprivation and Alzheimer’s disease.
Getting Enough Sleep Comes with Big Benefits
When we get enough sleep, it boosts our creativity, helps us manage our moods, and help reverse some of the damage done by not getting enough sleep. It can help balance our metabolism, boost our immune systems, and even improve our cardiovascular health. In addition, it decreases the risks of developing the chronic diseases associated with sleep deprivation.