How many times has it happened to you that your chores and things you have to do stack up so much that you reach the morning working or you catch just a few hours of sleep trying to finish everything in time? The first time it is stressful, and every next time you are getting better at it. You arm yourself with a coffee, energy drinks, cigars and you are ready to work the whole night, if needed. Still, have you asked yourself what consequences are the outcome of this way of life?
Everybody is pointing out that the lack of sleep can have terrible effects on our physical health – fatigue, lessened productivity, bad concentration, increased appetite, etc. But, the consequences of the lack of sleep can affect our mental health a lot too, and they can be very serious and concerning.
One of the possible consequences of lack of sleep is loss of memory. Sleep is needed for cognitive activities of the brain and without it our abilities to consolidate memories, learn daily tasks and make decisions are weakened in a great measure. Research has shown that the REM phase of sleeping, the dreaming phase more precisely, helps in solidifying sensitive memories the brain creates during the day, so they can be better organized and stored in our long term memory.
Next to that, a chronic lack of sleep causes constant irritation and anger, and also reduces our ability to deal with stress. It also increases the risk of depression. Depression and lack of sleep are so closely bond that specialists that deal with this problem state that it is sometimes difficult to conclude which of those two have appeared first in the patient.
Research shows that even a partial lack of sleep has a significant influence on mood. Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania have shown that people, who had a limited sleep of 4.5 hours during one week, exhibited a higher level of stress, anger, sadness and mental fatigue.
One major consequence that lack of sleep can cause is lowered optimism and lowered social skills. Maybe it is the effort we must put in to stay awake or some other factors, but when we don’t get enough sleep we are less friendly to other people and we are less hopeful to positive outcomes.
The phenomenon of the ‘delayed sleep phase’ appears in the change of the rhythm of sleep. Namely, more and more people go to sleep very late or early in the morning, and then sleep to the afternoon. Considering that it is proven that the best quality of sleep is in late night hours, this shift of sleep can lead to changes in the metabolism of that person. Still, many are fully used to this state and function without bigger problems, and are not even aware of the problems they do possess.
One of the disorders linked to the lack of sleep is called `sleep bulimia`. A very pronounced trend of many ‘short sleepers’ is to sleep only 3-4 hours weekly, and then during the weekends try to catch up on that by sleeping extremely long. This seems possible in theory, but still it is not surely determined what kind of consequences it leaves on people.
If you do find it troublesome to get some sleep even though you are going to bed on time, maybe you should consider installing blinds in your home. They can help you if the morning sun wakes you too soon by staying shut, not allowing light to enter and thus keeping your sleep safe.
Many aspects of our lives and our health in general depend on our sleep. We can catch up on many missed things, but that is not the case with a lack of sleep. So be sure to secure yourself with up to 7 to 9 quality hours of sleep and you will have much more energy and many ideas to fulfill your daily tasks.