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Magazine, Spring 2017: The Easter Issue, Wellness

How Losing Sleep Could Affect Your Health

Elisabet Dominguez

Sleep. It’s one of those beneficial things every human needs to function and survive. Sleeping is a way for the body to reset and repair itself. When a person gets an adequate amount of sleep each night, it helps improve their brain function and emotional well-being. Sleeping helps the brain to work properly and enhances our ability to learn. Adequate sleep helps us pay attention, be more creative, and make decisions. But there are other benefits to having a good night’s rest as well. Studies show that those who get an adequate amount of sleep each night, 7 to 9 hours, tend to live longer. Additionally, getting a proper amount of sleep can help curb inflammation and contribute to improving grades in school. Furthermore, getting adequate sleep can help you maintain a healthy weight, and help lower stress.

So, what happens if you lose sleep each night? Does it affect your health? According to WebMD, here are some of the effects of losing sleep each night:

  • Loss of sleep causes accidents
  • Loss of sleep impairs your ability to learn and participate
  • Sleep deprivation can lead to serious health issues, such as:
    • Heart disease
    • Heart attack/Heart failure
    • High blood pressure
    • Stroke
  • Lack of sleep can make you gain weight
  • Lack of sleep can lead to depression or make depression/anxiety worse

There are other ways losing sleep could affect your health:

  • Losing sleep means getting sick more often
  • Your risk of developing cancer increases
  • By losing sleep, you tend to be more accident prone
  • Losing sleep means your skin starts to age faster
  • Losing sleep causes you to be more irritable

One of the common misconceptions about sleep is that we can ‘make it up’ or ‘catch up’ on lost sleep. It is not possible to catch up on lost sleep; it will eventually add up. For example, if you lose two hours of sleep each night, by the end of the week you will have lost 14 hours of sleep for the week. Taking a nap can provide a brief respite, but it will not make up for lost sleep. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, adults, including the elderly, need at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. For teens and young adults, they need up to 10 hours of sleep and for children and newborns? They need 12 to 16 hours of sleep.

Approximately 40% of American get 6 hours of sleep of night, versus the recommended 7 to 8 average. When you lose sleep each night, your health begins to suffer. Studies have shown that losing sleep can affect your overall health, mentally, and physically. Our bodies and our brains depend on sleep to help us get through the day and function. Bottom line? Inadequate sleep can have devastating consequences.

What are some ways you ensure you get enough sleep? Let us know below!

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