A few nights ago I stayed up too late, even though I knew I had an early meeting in another town. When I woke up the next morning, I tried to brew a pot of coffee without pouring water into the reservoir. Even when standing there in front of the empty decanter, it took my sluggish mind a few minutes to realize what I’d done wrong.
The average adult needs at least 7 – 9 hours of sleep every night, yet few of us achieve it. Staying up to watch our favorite late night program or stressing over a work project often cut into these precious hours. We shrug off the zombie feeling and prop ourselves up with caffeine and sugar, but this ongoing lack of sleep is making us very sick.
It’s important to point out that not all sleep deprivation is obvious like my story about staying up late and getting up earlier than usual. Often we just cheat ourselves out of an hour or two over long periods of time, leading to long-term health consequences and sometimes deadly accidents.
Do you catch every illness that strikes your community? When you get sick, does it take weeks before you feel normal again? Even “modest” sleep deprivation (less than 6 hours of sleep per night) has been directly linked to reduced immune response, inhibiting your ability to ward off illness.
Have you struggled to maintain a healthy weight, despite exercise? Research shows that when the body stays awake for too long, it struggles to process blood sugar and leptin (a protein hormone that regulates appetite and metabolism), so more is stored as fat. Interestingly, sugary foods are what we reach for when we feel tired.
Scroll through the infographic below for more astonishing facts about just how important a full night’s sleep is to our long-term health. Then click on the links at the bottom to learn how you can sleep away your zombiefied self.
Image via Thinkstock
By Beth Buczynski
Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog.
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