What Happens To Your Brain And Body If You Don’t Sleep

why you need sleep

You’ll be pleased to hear that science has got your back if you want an excuse to get more sleep. There are many health effects linked to a lack of sleep, both physical and psychological.

Usually people are advised to get around seven to eight hours sleep a night (although that claim has been brought into question). Yet, according to a recent survey, over 40 percent of U.S. citizens are getting fewer than seven hours of sleep.

It seems to be a symptom of the ever-accelerating pace of modern life – in 1942, just 3 percent of people in the U.S. got five hours or less sleep; in 2013, that figure was 14 percent. Seventy years ago, Americans slept an average of 7.9 hours a night, nowadays it’s around 6.8 hours. That said, we can’t blame long working hours and smartphones entirely, as a recent study suggested that our ancestors probably actually got less sleep than we do.

Regardless, what are the impacts on our bodies of sleep deprivation? Check out this infographic from Now Foods showing eight of the negative effects a prolonged lack of sleep can have on your weary mind and body.

The reasons your brain and your body need plenty of sleep. Besides giving you a well-rested feeling, sleep has many different benefits for both your body and your mind:

  1. Detoxes your brain: Sleep makes it possible for your brain to effectively dispose of the waste that your brain cells have produced throughout the day by shrinking neurons to half their size, making the channels that the waste moves through wider, and allowing the waste to be expelled to the liver twice as fast.
  2. Memory consolidation: While you sleep, the brain repeatedly replays remembered events from that day; if these phases are interrupted, memories aren’t fully formed, or even not formed at all. This is part of what helps you learn new skills. One study found that mice doing an hour’s training followed by sleep would ‘learn more’ than mice who did three hours of training but were then sleep deprived. This process is the result of connections forming between neurons, which happens more often during sleep.
  3. Improved athletic performance: A study from Stanford found that college football players who aimed for 10 hours of sleep a night for 7-8 weeks saw significant improvement in their average sprint times and overall stamina; they also experienced a drop in daytime tiredness.
  4. Improved weight loss: Sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same parts of the brain, and studies of sleep among people on diets have found that well-rested test subjects lose more weight in fat than those who were sleep deprived, who then lost more weight in muscle mass. Participants also reported more hunger when they got less sleep.
  5. Better mood: Could it be better for you to sleep in a little instead of be the first one to the office at 7 am? Research shows that getting one extra hour of sleep a night has more impact on your daily happiness than $60,000 more in annual income.
  6. More manageable pain: Research shows that sleep can reduce chronic pain in people just as much as medication would.

Remember, your sleep schedule is completely unique to your body, mind, and daily schedule. Experiment to find what your personal optimal amount of sleep is, and keep in mind that people sleep differently at different stages of their life, so your sleep schedule is likely to change as you age.

A good night’s sleep is the first step to enjoying many health and psychological benefits, and by sleeping well, you’ll awake ready to tackle the day and live a healthy lifestyle. Let’s follow me to read more Side Sleeper Reviews.

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