If you are anything like me, this past week it has been nearly impossible to get out of bed. Losing that one hour on Saturday night followed me all the way to Friday. How is that possible? It is only one hour! But we all know that the difference between getting up at 6 a.m. and getting up at 5 a.m. is a big one.
I know that personally, a lack of sleep causes me to run a little behind schedule and makes me slightly less energetic than usual. But did you know that lack of sleep can cause serious health issues?
Let’s look at some of the main problems associated with sleep deprivation.
An article on WebMD states that, “Sleep deprivation was a factor in some of the biggest disasters in recent history: the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, the massive Exxon Valdez oil spill, [and] the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl.”
What’s that you say, you don’t work in a nuclear power plant or with any major oil companies? Well do you drive a car? Drowsiness can slow reaction time as much as driving drunk.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigue is a cause in 100,000 auto crashes and 1,500 crash-related deaths a year in the U.S. These accidents are most common among young adults under the age of 25.
And if that isn’t serious enough for you, lack of sleep can increase your risk of the following medical problems.
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
Time magazine explains, researchers at the University of Chicago report in the Journal of the American Medical Association that not enough sleep can lead to calcium buildup in the heart arteries, leading to the plaques that can then break apart and cause heart attacks and strokes.
On the other side of that spectrum, not only does getting enough sleep help prevent these accidents and diseases, it can also help you lose weight!
Researchers studied 17 normal, young, healthy men and women for 8 nights, with half of the participants sleeping normally and the other half only sleeping two-thirds of their normal time. During the study the participants were allowed to eat whatever they wanted. Researchers found that the sleep deprived group only slept one hour and 20 minutes less than the other group and yet consumed, on average, an extra 549 calories a day.
So if you think that one hour less of daylight savings can’t make a difference, think again.
Granted, daylight savings was probably not the cause of Chernobyl, but getting an average of four hours of sleep a night because you waited until the last minute to write that 10-page paper is going to catch up with you.