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The Dangers of Not Getting Enough Sleep

Published : April 18, 2022
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What happens if you don’t get enough sleep?

Have you ever pulled an all-nighter for a test you didn’t study for and then felt like you didn’t go as well in the test as you thought you would? Have you ever felt so tired that you thought you’d fall asleep at the wheel while driving? If you answered yes to these questions, you can easily guess the answer for why these occurred. The answer is sleep, or rather the lack of sleep.

Most people understand that the correct amount of sleep = a more energetic day and the less amount of sleep = a groggier, less productive day. This is true, but to what extent? The answer is more than one would expect. In this blog, you’ll find out what actually happens when you don’t get enough sleep.

Let’s start with a hard-hitting fact which you may already know. Having under 7 hours of sleep for 10 days in a row causes the same amount of performance impairment as not sleeping for 24 hours. Crazy right? A lot of people don’t actually accomplish this; that is, sleeping for more than 7 hours per night in 10 days. You could imagine how that person would feel. The thing is, most people don’t actually know HOW sleep deprived they are.

If you had chronically poor sleep, it’s likely that you wouldn’t know the effects of the lack of sleep you’re having, because it would become normal to you. The state of you being fatigued and having reduced alertness and energy levels would become your natural state. Shocking to think about. Let’s unpack what lack of sleep can actually do to you. We’ll break them into two categories; obvious ones and not so obvious ones.

Obvious ones

Reduced concentration

The ability to focus on a specific task for longer than 30 minutes is a superpower. The fact is, that most people don’t possess this superpower because they get too little sleep too often. We’ve all envied that one person at work who seems like they can work for hours without being distracted. They’re probably having great sleep frequently.

Increased fatigue

Feeling tired for the whole day after a poor night’s sleep is the worst. In relation to driving whilst fatigued though, it’s a killer… literally. Let’s say it took you 2 minutes to read up until this point of the blog. Guess how many car crashes would have occurred in the last 2 minutes in the USA. The answer is 4. Every 30 seconds there is a car crash related to fatigue. This is shocking. Driving whilst drowsy is worse than being at the .05 blood alcohol level.

Not so obvious ones

Increased anger

A great example with this point is children. When they have a poor sleep, more often than not, they will be grumpy. The same is true for adults. A lack of sleep can make people more short-tempered than if they were to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep. So, the next time you feel a rage brewing within, ask yourself how much sleep you’ve been getting the past few nights. You might just find your answer.

Immune system weakens

During sleep is when your body is working its hardest to fight off infection and viruses, via the immune system. In saying this, having too little sleep can inhibit your body from working as it should to fight off those nasty germs. Decreased sleep when fighting off a cold will only make it last longer.

Memory loss

It is true that a decrease in sleep can affect memory. During sleep, the things you learnt that day are consolidated into memory (retaining information), so you can recall it at a later stage. This being said, having little to no sleep (like high school and university students before an exam) can harm their grades. This is because the information hasn’t been consolidated.

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