Why lack of sleep is a barrier to your success

Sep 14, 2016 | Living

How often have you cut your sleep short for various reasons – exams, jobs, parties, night outs?

Well, guess what! Sleep is probably more important to you than food. You are more likely to die from sleep deprivation before food deprivation. It takes about 2 weeks to starve, yet just 10 days without sleep can be enough to kill a person.

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”

Ernest Hemingway

Sleep deprivation can lead to innumerable problems such as memory issues, weakened immune system, high blood pressure, heart diseases, weight gain, diabetes and depression. Even a single night of less than 7 hours of sleep makes it 3 times more likely to catch a cold!

Man is the only mammal that willingly delays sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Yet, the irony is most of us do actually love sleeping, don’t we! So here we give you 6 reasons to sleep more and lead a healthier life:

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1  Cognitive performance and memory

If you are forgetful, lack of sleep may have something to do with it. Studies have shown that during sleep, our brains are quite busy processing and consolidating memories from the day. Lack of sleep may result in those memories not getting stored correctly leading to memory loss, cognition impairment and sometimes, “false memories”- when you ‘remember’ something that actually didn’t happen!

Lack of sleep, benefits of sleep, benefits of sleeping, Sleep helps in better focus and attention

2  Better focus and attention

Remember those silly mistakes you made in exams as a child? According to a 2010 study in the journal Sleep, children between the ages of 10 and 16 who have interrupted breathing during sleep (such as snoring and sleep apnea) are more likely to have problems with attention & learning. Another study found that children aged 7 & 8 who got less than 8 hours of sleep at night were more likely to be hyperactive and inattentive. A good night’s sleep sharpens our attention and improves focus, thereby making us more alert and receptive to learning.

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3  Fitter body

A research at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well-rested lost more fat than those who were sleep-deprived (who lost more muscle mass). Also, lack of sleep makes leptin (a hormone that regulates appetite) levels in our bodies drop. The result – you end up feeling hungrier and gain weight. Proper sleep improves metabolism and you burn more calories than you do watching television!

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4  Strengthening of immune system

To win a war, we need soldiers and so do our bodies in the fight against bacteria and viruses. During sleep, our immune system produces antibodies & cytokines that fight these foreign substances and give the immune system more energy to defend against illnesses. Lack of sleep reduces the body’s ability to fight infections and consequently, takes longer to recover from them.

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5  Better decision-making

We’ve often heard people telling us to “sleep over” our problems. Well, it’s true! During sleep, our brains rest busy neurons, repair damaged cells and create new pathways so that we are ready to face the world in the morning. A proper sleep helps in improving our decision-making and creativity, thereby enabling us to assess problems afresh the next day.

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6  Lower stress levels

If your boss scolded you for no apparent reason today, chances are your boss is sleep-deprived. Lack of sleep affects emotional regulation and has a strong effect on moods. A good sleep results in emotional stability, thereby improving our moods and lowering stress levels. It also helps in reducing anxiety and fighting depression.

Now that you know the invaluable benefits of sleeping, go ahead and find more excuses to sleep more. Remember, long hours of sleep on weekends do not make up for the lack of sleep during the week. It’s all about striking a balance and ensuring that the body is getting its share of sleep (8 hours for adults and 10 hours for children). So, happy sleeping!