These days we are a dozen times more productive than a century ago, and this is thanks to a combination of modern technology and excellent logistical skills. Yet while we accomplish exponentially more in less time, we often still find that our schedules are full rather than wide open (as one would assume they would be).
One of the first things that is sacrificed to a busy schedule is sleep. More than fifty percent of Americans get less than the eight hours of sleep a night so widely recommended by doctors and scientists. As many as twenty percent sleep less than six hours a night. Yet not getting the necessary amount of sleep, as it turns out, negatively affects a number of biological functions. Listed below are some of the best reasons to hit the snooze button and doze off for another half hour.
A singular five hour night of sleep is normal. It happens to nearly everyone. Yet continue with such a pattern for a week or more, and you will find that your brain simply doesn’t operate at its optimal level any longer. If you keep it up for two weeks, you’ll notice that your memory, thought processing capabilities, and reaction time are all significantly diminished to a level equivalent to staying up for forty eight hours straight.
Your Immune System
Your immune system is affected by a wide variety of factors, but few are as strongly correlated to its function as the amount of sleep you get. Sleeping less than seven hours a night increases your chances of catching a cold by 300%.
Dozens of medical and nutritional studies have shown that individuals who get adequate amounts of sleep tend to be leaner and healthier. There are a wide range of theories as to why this is true, but one particularly interesting one cites how the body produces more appetite-stimulating hormones when we are low on sleep.
Less Chronic Illness
Sleeping too little on a regular basis takes a tremendous toll on your body. For example, chronic sleep deprivation alters your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, and this raises your risk for Type II Diabetes exponentially. Sleeping less than six hours a night also doubles your risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.
Better Looking Skin and Hair
Sleep deprivation leads your body to release high amounts of the stress induced hormone cortisol, which interferes with proper cell function, thus wreaking absolute havoc on your skin and hair (excess cortisol levels can also lead to depression). Sleep is also when your body repairs damages skin cells and generates new ones. With proper sleep, your skin is more likely to look new, healthy, and elastic.
So getting the right amount of sleep will make you happier, healthier, and more attractive. You will spend less time sick, work at a higher cognitive level, and spend less time stressing over things such as pimples and the common cold. It seems then that a small investment in sleep can save you countless hours in productivity when you are awake.