Do I Really Need 8 Hours of Sleep?
Thursday, November 18, 2010

With a busy office schedule and long to-do lists, many of us neglect our body's very important need for sleep.Studies indicate that sleep plays an important role in the way our body functions. If we simply schedule an extra hour for sleeping, we can address the many immediate and long-term effects of sleep deprivation.

Memory and Focus

On days when you don't get enough sleep, it's always hard to stay awake in the work place. Even if a good cup of coffee or several energy drinks can keep you awake for the entire day, your mind has trouble focusing and memorizing. Lack of sleep can also result in drowsiness, lack of focus, and affect your ability to make clear decisions, hurting both your work life and your relationships with loved ones.

Heart Health

Although short-term effects of sleep deprivation are normally limited to drowsiness, fatigue, and lack of focus, there are serious long-term side effects related to sleep deprivation. People who don't sleep enough have an increased risk for cardiovascular problems. When you don't follow your body's natural schedule, you are at a much higher risk for cardiac arrest. If you have high blood pressure, your risk for sudden cardiac arrest or stroke can increase by 68% in comparison to people who sleep more than 7.5 hours a day.

Obesity

If you are trying to lose weight, sleeping more could do the trick! In various research studies, the amount of sleep people get has been linked to their overall body weight. Although many people believe that sleeping more adds to body weight, not sleeping enough can also add extra pounds. It's best to sleep between 7-8 hours every day, especially if you are trying to lose weight.

Immune System

Getting the sleep you need can help your immune system and keep you from getting sick. If you get the sleep you need, you might actually be saving yourself time since you won't waste both time and energy on being sick! As winter approaches, it is important for us to take care of our immune system. Sleeping more could be the easy and painless solution to giving our immune system a simple boost!

How many hours of sleep do I really need?

Most experts suggest 7-8 hours of sleep for adults. Adults who sleep more than 7 hours have a lower risk for cardiovascular disease and obesity. However, many adults have a common misconception that they can "catch up" on sleep. Pulling an all-nighter one day and sleeping 14 hours the next is not equivalent to sleeping 7 hours both days. It is also better to consistently sleep 7 hours a day with an occasional long night rather than sleeping only 6 hours every day. Sleeping only 6 hours a day adds to your "sleep debt" and after around two weeks, your mind functions the same way as it would have without a night's sleep. When your job forces you to stay up late, remember the consequences of not getting enough sleep. It just might be a better idea to drop your work and start it up again the next morning.