What Happens To Our Bodies When We Don’t Get Enough Sleep?March 17, 2022
March is Sleep Awareness Month and sleep is one of the most important ways we can fuel our bodies.
We always hear people boasting about how well they’re eating and how much they’re working out. But we rarely hear anyone talking the same way about their sleep. The reality is many of us do not sleep nearly enough to successfully complement all other efforts to keep ourselves healthy.
Sleep experts recommend getting at least seven hours of sleep every night and making getting a good night’s sleep a priority. The National Sleep Foundation conducted two-year research and broke down suggested sleep hours by age.
- Older adults, 65+ years: 7 to 8 hours.
- Adults, 26 to 64 years: 7 to 9 hours.
- Young adults, 18 to 25 years: 7 to 9 hours.
- Teenagers, 14 to 17 years: 8 to 10 hours.
- School-age children, 6 to 13 years: 9 to 11 hours.
- Preschool children, 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours.
- Toddlers, 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours.
- Infants, 4 to 11 months: 12 to 15 hours.
- Newborns, 0 to 3 months: 14 to 17 hours.
Sleep disorders expert, Dr. Harneet Walia, says “there’s evidence that genetic, behavioral and environmental factors help determine how much sleep and individual needs for their best health and daily performance.”
So, what happens to our bodies when we don’t get enough sleep?
- Lack of alertness. Even missing as little as 1.5 hours can have an impact on your day.
- Excessive daytime sleepiness. You may spend your day very sleepy and tired.
- Impaired memory. Lack of sleep can affect your ability to think, remember and process information.
- Relationship stress. You can experience moodiness and have conflicts with others.
- Quality of life. You may be less likely to participate in normal daily activities.
- Greater likelihood for car accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving accounts for thousands of crashes each year.
Prolonged sleep deprivation can lead to more serious, long-term health problems. Some of these include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure or stroke. Other potential problems are obesity, depression, impairment in immunity and lower sex drive. Chronic sleep deprivation can also affect your appearance. It can lead to wrinkling and dark circles under the eyes. There’s also a link between lack of sleep and an increase in the stress hormone, cortisol, in the body. Cortisol can break down collage, the protein that keeps skin smooth.