Most of us have had a sleepless night or two, at some point in our lives. Whether it’s a late night, an early morning, or a full night of tossing and turning under the covers, we’ve all had experience with insomnia. However, it turns out that sleep deprivation is a much more serious issue than most people think, not only in the United States, but around the world.
The minimum amount of sleep recommended for each night (for the average American adult) is seven hours. However, as you might expect, most people fail to clock in that number on a nightly basis. And what might be even worse is that most people fail to realize how much of an effect that actually has on their bodies. According to a study done by Maria Konnikova from The New Yorker, sleeping six hours a night for just twelve days can result in almost identical mental and physical performances as someone who stays awake for a full 24 hours straight, which is in turn very similar to having a blood alcohol level of 0.1 percent. And some of the effects of sleep deprivation are even more serious, including weight gain, decreased levels and quality of performance, increased risk of cancer, depression, memory issues, and increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. What’s more, according to the study, people that are regularly sleep deprived can lose the ability to even realize they need sleep. That is to say, after so many nights of sleep deprivation, you don’t even feel sleepy, making it harder to get yourself back on track.
Of course, there are ways to get yourself back into a healthy sleep schedule, including some new ideas that take the topic into a whole new depth of study. Some of this new research suggests that exposure to bright light, whether indoor or outdoor, can help people sleep better at night, based on a study done with over 100 employees working in office buildings. This morning exposure to light helps keep the body’s natural clock, also known as its “circadian rhythm,” running at the right pace throughout the day, allowing your body to rest fully and peacefully throughout the night.
Getting a full night’s sleep is vital to staying in good shape, both mentally and physically, and helps enormously in maintaining a healthy weight. Set a goal for yourself to get at least a full seven to eight hours of sleep each night, and watch how quickly a good night can turn into a good day.