The recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7 to 9 hours per night, but how often do we actually achieve this goal? One study shows that about 75% of the adult population in this country have sleep difficulties at least a few nights each week. While staying up late every now and then is unlikely to have a major impact on your health, not getting enough sleep on a regular basis can have detrimental effects. Here are six things that can be affected by lack of rest:
1) General Safety – Not getting enough sleep at night can lead to your body trying to force you to sleep at inappropriate times, such as while driving a car. And while you’re unlikely to hurt yourself or others, falling asleep at work might not make your boss very happy.
2) Mood – When you’re tired, you’re more likely to be irritable AND you’re less likely to do things that would make you less cranky.
3) Learning and Memory – Sleep is very important to the process that consolidates memories in our brain. Skimping on sleep can lead to less retention of things that you read or study.
4) Cardiovascular Health – Research has shown that chronic sleep problems can result in irregular heart rhythms and high blood pressure.
5) Metabolism and Weight – Lack of sleep leads to increased levels of stress hormones which can cause you to pack on weight. In addition, research shows that people who are tired tend to eat more food than well-rested individuals.
6) Immune System – Sleep boosts the natural functioning of the immune system, helping to prevent illness. Research has also shown that sleeping can help fight cancer by boosting the number of natural killer cells, a type of cell important in immunity, that are circulating in the bloodstream.