A good night’s sleep is more important than you may think

With many people juggling hectic schedules and working long days, it can sometimes be hard to find time for a good night’s sleep. However, getting enough sleep is more important that some people may realize. That is why March 3 – 10 has been designated as Sleep Awareness Week.

While the amount of sleep you need varies from person to person, on average most adults require between 7 and 8 hours per night. When you obtain less sleep than you require, you go into “sleep debt.” Like all debts, this will have to be repaid – with interest. The more sleep you miss, the more sleep you will require.

Contrary to what many people believe, you cannot simply “get used” to sleeping less without suffering adverse consequences. Tests have shown that sleep-deprived individuals actually perform tasks as poorly or worse than people who are intoxicated. Specifically, sleep deprivation will negatively impact your:

  • Attention
  • Vigilance
  • Memory
  • Decision making
  • Reaction/Response times
  • Judgment

And despite popular opinion, it is not possible to cancel out these effects with caffeine or other stimulants. The impact of sleep deprivation does not end with cognitive functions, either. It has very real, and very serious, health implications.

It is believed that sleep deprivation may affect the immune system, making you more vulnerable to common viral illnesses, obesity, heart disease, depression and even diabetes.

REM sleep also lets the brain replenish the mechanisms for memory, learning, performance and problem solving. This means that if you get less than 6 hours of sleep, it may prevent you from retaining information.

The importance of a good night’s sleep is great, as are the consequences for not achieving it. If you believe that you may suffer from a condition that is causing you to experience sleep deprivation, contact the SOMC Sleep Lab at 740-356-8822.