Surveys have shown that the average American doesn’t get enough sleep. In fact, about 70 million Americans are believed to have a sleep disorder. These days, most people average about 6.8 hours of sleep a night. Back in 1942, the average American got a solid 8 hours of sleep each night. While this might not seem like much of a decline, it really is significant. It’s recommended that you get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to stay healthy.
So, what happens if you don’t get the recommended amount of sleep each night? Losing sleep isn’t just about being a little tired. There are a number of issues associated with sleep deprivation, including the following:
- Weight gain—Those who are chronically underslept often have hormone imbalances that can lead to a greater appetite and reduced impulse control. This dangerous combination leads to one thing – weight gain. Yes, you burn more calories when you’re awake, but it’s not enough to balance out the extra calories you’ll end up eating when sleep deprived.
- Heart disease—Researchers have found that those who don’t get enough sleep have a higher heart rate and higher blood pressure. Furthermore, C-reactive protein levels, an indication for heart disease, increase in those who don’t get enough sleep. Heart disease is the nation’s #1 killer. Getting some sleep can literally save your life!
- Impaired reaction time—A lack of sleep can make you slow, sluggish, and distracted. It can significantly affect your reaction time and impede your ability to make quality decisions. You need to get the recommended amount of sleep each night to keep your mind and reflexes sharp.
- Weakened immune system—Sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system, making you more vulnerable to illness and infection. In fact, one study showed that vaccinations are less effective in sleep deprived individuals due to their compromised immune systems. Simply put, if you don’t sleep, you’ll probably get sick.
- Memory issues—Your brain needs ample rest and recovery time, and when you don’t get enough sleep, cognitive performance suffers. Researchers have found that people who sleep more tend to have sharper memories. A lack of sleep could be linked to elevated levels of beta-amyloid, a biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease.
If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, you should seek medical help before you experience the serious side effects of sleep deprivation. Click here to learn more about how our sleep studies and treatment could help you.