Research has shown how sleep is the average man’s panacea. With nearly one in three Americans showing signs of sleep deprivation, it makes sense to talk about it in the long run. If we sleep well, our bodies become more productive and healthier. We feel better and happy and rejuvenated in our lives.
The National Sleep Foundation has come up with some amazing statistics that show young adults in the age group of 18-35 years need 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day. There are times when not getting enough sleep is not an option. People who are sick and need care may need more of sleep, but that does not stop the average healthy adult from falling asleep every night. Here is the sleep chart for all men and women in the United States:
The New Recommendations Are:
- Older adults, 65+ years: 7-8 hours
- Adults, 26-64 years: 7-9 hours
- Young adults, 18-25 years: 7-9 hours
- Teenagers, 14-17 years: 8-10 hours
- School-age children, 6-13 years: 9-11 hours
- Preschool children, 3-5 years: 10-13 hours
- Toddlers, 1-2 years: 11-14 hours
- Infants, 4-11 months: 12-15 hours
- Newborns, 0-3 months: 14-17 hours
A team of Norwegian neuroscientists has found that those who are sleep deprived often see a difference in the way the brain functions in the day to day life. Lack of sleep also affects the way the white matter functions in the brain and interferes with the genes.
Here is a list of ailments that can plague the human body if there is chronic lack of sleep:
1. Sleep deprivation causes breakdown of the immune system
There is a direct relationship between sleep and the immune system. Sleep deprivation leads to complications that prevent the body from fighting difficult illnesses. Thus leads to sicknesses that inadvertently also affect our productivity.
Adequate sleep helps your body produce protective compounds like cytokines, that provides our immune system with enough support to ward off infections. But, sleep deprivation weakens immune system making us prone to infections and illnesses.
2. Breakdown of the logical thought process
Thought processes often suffer if the average human being goes sleep-deprived for days. Lack of sleep and rest impairs our cognitive abilities. Your brain may fail to absorb and store new information and commit it to memory. Experimental Brain Research has published a study that has shown that lack of sleep led to poor decision making and diminished reasoning levels.
Apart from these, the problem-solving and time management skills are often diminished with slower reaction times. Also, sleep deprivation affects our right prefrontal cortex and is correlated with increased risk-seeking behaviour.
So, if you are the one who studies the night before the final exam or work late night to meet the deadline of your project, remember that your brain is losing efficiency. Your brain is getting weary and soon you will start to perform poorly in earning and memory tasks. When your reaction time suffers, driving or operating machinery may be a dangerous activity for you. In short, people with sleep deprivation like business travellers, those working night shifts are prone to accidents.
3. Pile up of weight and obesity risks
If you are weight-obsessed, you need to get enough sleep. When you don’t get sufficient sleep, you tend to have more junk food cravings. You feel like consuming more food rich in sugar and fat. And if you want to keep your appetite in check, you need to track your sleep time.
Over 21,000 adults were evaluated and the relationship between sleep and weight checked. Those who slept for less than 5 hours a day were more likely to get obese with risks of heart attack heightened. And those who slept between 7 and 8 hours fared better on the scale.
4. Sleep deprivation causes pale and dry skin
A study of sleep habits and skin condition showed that in people from ages 30 to 50 who had less sleep were more likely to be unhappy with their appearance and skin. Most of them complained of wrinkles and fine lines, age spots and lack of elasticity of the skin.
Lack of sleep increases the level of cortisol in our body, which is known as the stress hormone. According to the National Sleep Foundation, cortisol can break down collagen, which plays a key role in replacing and restoring dead skin cells. Low collagen leads to sagging of skin and premature wrinkles making you look older than you actually are.
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5. Risk of heart disease and stroke
Good night’s sleep also is necessary to prevent our heart from not functioning well in the long run. In a recent study published by the European Heart Journal found that those who did not sleep suffered from coronary heart disease and stroke risks that may be fatal in the long run.
Our body contains HDL cholesterol that is known as good cholesterol because it removes fat from the circulation and carries back to the liver, which in turn flushes fat from the body. Higher the HDL-cholesterol lower the risk for heart disease and stroke. People with sleep deprivation have lower HDL cholesterol and a higher risk of heart disease.