Why You Should Be Getting Enough Sleep

I suffer from insomia, Thank you, United States Army! Don’t get me wrong, I loved my job and I loved the army, but there were days when we would get about 2-3 hours sleep, and there were also days where we endured 24-hour shifts.

Those who’ve been in the army can relate. Hello, CQ (Charge of Quarters) duty! As time went on, I learned how to survive on less than 3 hours of sleep, and I have been doing it for quite some time now. We all do it from time to time: stay up too late watching Netflix, forego sleep in favor of spending more time with friends, wake up early to get some extra work in.

What many of us don’t realize, however, is just how detrimental lack of sleep is to both physical and mental health. There are definitely responsibilities that can call us to get less-than-adequate sleep from time to time, but for the most part, the majority of us can make changes to our lifestyles that will allow us to get more hours of sleep in at night. In case you need some convincing, here are some solid reasons why you should be giving yourself adequate sleep at night.

It keeps your brain sharp.

When considering the disadvantages that go along with lack of sleep, it’s alarming to see just how many are centered around the brain alone. Not getting enough sleep impairs several cognitive processes, including alertness, attention, concentration, memory, problem solving, and reasoning. This makes it much more difficult to learn and retain information. It also impairs your judgment, which means that if you think you’re running just fine on little sleep, chances are you’re worse off than you think.

It allows you to perform your job at your best.

Sure, there are some jobs that allow you to go simply through the motions, but even then, not getting enough sleep is going to undermine your quality of work. Getting a good night’s rest is key to being able to perform at your best at work. Do you write for a living? Good luck recalling words and avoiding typos when you’re feeling sleepy. Are you constantly having to crunch numbers? Try getting everything right when your brain is functioning at a lower capacity. And as this article explains, adequate sleep is absolutely essential in some lines of work for safety reasons (think mining and truck driving, for example).

It keeps your skin healthy.

…and then there are the physical aspects of sleep deprivation to worry about. You may have seen yourself develop sallow skin and puffy eyes after a night of less-than-adequate sleep, but did you know that chronic sleep deprivation has longer-lasting effects on your skin? Because lack of sleep keeps your skin from completing the self-repair it needs to at night, not getting enough sleep can lead to deeper wrinkles, dry skin, and an overall dull appearance. It can also cause existing skin conditions, such as breakouts and dermatitis, to worsen.

It keeps your weight down.

In case undermining the health of your skin wasn’t enough for you to worry about, you should know that sleep deprivation can also lead to weight gain. Lack of sleep has been linked to increased hunger and appetite, and it can even make you 30% more likely to become obese, according to a 2004 study.

It keeps other health risks down.

There are a number of other conditions you are at increased risk for when you chronically forego getting enough sleep. Some of these conditions include heart attack, heart disease, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.

It helps you beat burnout.

Burnout happens when the demands of a high-paced lifestyle cause you to regularly forego your personal needs, ultimately leading to chronic fatigue, insomnia, malnutrition, impaired concentration, anxiety, and even depression. Many workers, such as physicians, teachers, accountants, and full-time students, are especially prone to developing burnout, and sleep is a powerful weapon that these people can use to help fight it. As this article about beating burnout details, self-care is central to helping you avoid or treat burnout—and that includes getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising regularly. They may seem like small things, but they make all the difference.

It can keep you from developing depression.

Scientific studies have linked mental disorders such as anxiety and depression to a lack of sleep on numerous occasions. A 2005 study found that those who were diagnosed with anxiety or depression were more likely to be getting less than six hours of sleep per night. Another study in 2007 found that individuals suffering from insomnia—the sleeping disorder with the strongest link to depression—were five times more likely to develop depression than those without insomnia.

Let’s discuss: Are you getting enough sleep? 

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