The Cost of Lost Sleep
We all know that sleep is important. But just how important is it?
Well…consider how negatively one single event effects everyone in the United States each year. We’re talking about something that results in almost everyone being sleep-deprived at exactly the same time:
Daylight Savings Time. Specifically, the change in time that occurs every spring when we “spring forward”.
The American Heart Association blames this shift in time for an increase in heart attacks and strokes each year. In fact, the change in time negatively impacts overall health to the point where medical experts have recommended that we do away with it. And the U.S. Senate has passed a bill to do exactly that.
But Daylight Savings Time is just one isolated event each year. The CDC estimates that about 35% of American adults get at least one hour less than the recommended minimum of seven hours of sleep each night.
And this lack of sleep has a huge effect on our economy:
- In the U.S., it’s estimated that sleep deprivation costs the economy about 1.2 million working days each year.
- In terms of dollars, the cost of sleep deprivation in the U.S is estimated to be $411 billion per year.
So the big picture is that sleep deprivation is detrimental for us as a society in terms of lost work time, lost dollars, and overall health. But what is it doing to you specifically?
How Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Body
Your body depends on sleep. Sleep is when your body repairs and replaces damaged and worn-out cells. Sleep allows you to restore your energy levels. It even lets your brain sort through and store memories.
Here’s what can happen if you don’t get at least seven hours of sleep per night for an extended period of time:
- Neurological Issues: Without enough sleep, your brain can’t properly form the connections needed to store new memories. Both short- and long-term memory can be compromised.
Your brain’s ability to concentrate and solve problems can also be affected by a lack of sleep. In addition, inadequate sleep has been linked to an increased risk of depression.
- Weakened Immunity:
Your immune system recharges while you sleep. A lack of sleep can leave your immune system stressed and overworked, making you more vulnerable to illness.
- Cardiovascular Disease:
Insufficient sleep can lead to high blood pressure and inflammation, which can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
- Weight Gain:
Without enough sleep, your digestive system can’t signal that you’re full like it normally does. This is why people tend to snack and binge eat when they’re overtired. The result is weight gain.
- Increased Risk of Diabetes:
Insufficient sleep interferes with the release of insulin by your pancreas. This can result in elevated blood sugar, and the eventual onset of type 2 diabetes.
- Reduced Sex Drive:
A lack of sleep has been linked to lower libido in both men and women. The primary culprit is a reduction in testosterone levels, but an overall lack of energy can also contribute.
- Greater Risk of Accidents:
Sleep loss affects your balance and your reflexes, particularly with age. The result can be more accidents—everything from falls in the home to car collisions.
How to Get the Sleep You Need
Fortunately, a few simple changes can help you to get the sleep you need:
- Schedule your sleep. Try setting a bedtime and stick to it every night.
- Turn off devices. Blue screens on phones, tablets, and computers make it harder for your brain to “wind down”. Turn them off well in advance of going to bed.
- Avoid caffeine and other stimulants for at least 3-4 hours before you go to sleep.
- Don’t exercise vigorously or eat a meal too close to bedtime. Remember, you want your body to wind down—not the other way around.
- Turn down the thermostat. Most people sleep more soundly in a cool room.
- Dim the lights at least half an hour before bedtime. And keep the room you sleep in as dark as possible.
If you still have trouble falling asleep, your body may not be producing enough melatonin in the evening. Melatonin helps your brain to relax and get ready for sleep. But with age and exposure to artificial light, melatonin production declines. A melatonin supplement before bed may be what you need to drift off.
Make sure other hormones are balanced, as well. Progesterone deficiency in women and testosterone deficiency in men can cause insomnia. Likewise, restoring these hormones to healthy levels can make it easier to get quality sleep.
At Renew Youth, we know the importance of sleep for a healthy mind and body. We can provide hormone therapy, supplements, and lifestyle coaching to help you get the rest your body needs. Want to learn more? Call us at 800-859-7511 or use our contact form to schedule your free 30-minute consultation.