Stressing about the amount of sleep you get may be counterproductive, but some nights I can’t help but toss and turn, thinking about how miserable I’ll be in the morning if I don’t get the eight—now seven, now six, now four—hours of sleep that I know I need to be on top of my game in the morning.
Getting the recommended amount of sleep may not seem like something worth worrying about, but anxiety over insomnia isn’t completely unfounded.
More sleep studies are confirming the importance of deep, restful sleep and revealing that sleep deprivation, especially over an extended period of time, can actually cause serious long-term harm to your health.
There is no evidence that lack of sleep will create cancer in your body, but it certainly won’t help to stop it, either. Cancer is a cellular mutation, and your immune system needs to be strong to fight that mutation. Our immune systems work best when we’ve slept, as the sleep cycle gives our bodies a chance to rejuvenate. So, naturally, a lack of sleep will weaken our immune systems and, subsequently, our defenses.
These are just a few of the more serious effects sleep deprivation can have on your health. A quick Google search can provide you with countless other health risks that prolonged sleep deprivation can have on your body. In fact, TIME reported on a study revealing that, over time, those who got less than six hours of sleep were actually more likely to die at a young age. And let’s not forget the poor chap who lost his life after working nearly 72 hours straight as an intern for Bank of America.
It’s hard—with our constantly changing, fast-paced society demanding more and more of our time and requiring more and more multitasking—to fit in a full night’s sleep and still get everything done. But should we really be prioritizing things above our own health?
It’s time we all start investing more in ourselves and our future health by getting the rest we need. I don’t know about you, but I think these risk factors are a great excuse to sleep in tomorrow.
1. Meta-analysis of short sleep duration and obesity in children and adults,http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18517032, 2008
2. Acute partial sleep deprivation increases food intake in healthy men, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20357041, 2010
3. Metabolic, Endocrine, and Immune Consequences of Sleep Deprivation, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3132857/, 2011