Sleep Is Integral to Living a Good Life
It hardly needs to be said that living with chronic sleep deprivation will make it hard to live a quality life. You’ve felt exhausted before – you may feel exhausted right now – and you know how hard it is to function well when you are feeling so tired: at best, you can “get by.” The goal of life should be more than simply getting by.
It’s certainly a strong statement to say that chronic sleep deprivation makes it “hard to live a quality life,” but it’s a true statement. Many conditions cause chronic sleep deprivation; to name a few:
By chronic sleep deprivation, most studies tend to look at getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night on a continual basis.
Let’s look at the critical ways chronic sleep deprivation impacts the quality of your life and, in turn, how getting good sleep can positively impact your life.
Mental Performance and Sleep
Mental performance is usually the first things people think of when they think of how lack of sleep can hurt you. Consider that at 17-19 hours without sleep performance on tests are:
- Equivalent or worse than that of a .05% alcohol
- Showed 50% slower response speeds on tests
At more than 19 hours without sleep, performance levels quickly degrade to .1% alcohol and higher, which is about the same as being drunk. Chronic sleep deprivation can quickly lead to such levels of cognitive performance [Source: Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments…].
On the other hand, good sleep improves problem solving skills and memory performance in both children and adults.
Productivity and Sleep
Sleep will make a big difference in your productivity, in all of the following ways:
- Recover from distractions and interruptions faster
- Prevent burnout (sleep deprivation is one of the best predictors of burnout)
- You will make better decisions (see “mental performance and sleep”)
- You will have better memory
- You will make fewer mistakes, as sleep deprivation causes slower response times and lower accuracy rates on simple tasks
In most jobs, be they white or blue collar, as well as in managing life, sleep can make a big difference in your ability to perform well.
Physical/Athletic Performance and Sleep
A great example of how sleep can affect physical and athletic performance is found in the following study of The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players [link to article].
In the study, college basketball plays followed their regular sleep schedule for 2-4 weeks to establish baseline performance. They then followed a 5-7 week sleep extension period that involved a minimum goal of 10 hours in bed each night.
Go to the study to see specific improvements, but in nearly all categories basketball players averaged a 10% improvement in performance. This study simply shows what getting lots of sleep can do for athletic performance. Sleep deprivation affects physical activities in terms of:
- Reaction time
- Recovery periods
Physical Health and Sleep
Chronic sleep deprivation is not only poor for physical performance, it’s bad for your health. Some reasons include:
- Strong link of sleep deprivation to weight gain
- Sleep deprivation linked to heart disease and stroke [source]
- Sleep deprivation affects glucose metabolism and Type 2 diabetes risk [source]
- Link to increased inflammation [source] – those of you with IBS or other bowel-disorders may have already noticed a relationship between your gut and your sleep
- Sleep improves your immune function - in one study, people who received less than 7 hours of sleep were three times more likely to develop a cold than those with 8 hours or more of sleep.
In other words, chronic sleep deprivation makes you more prone to weight gain, disease, and sickness.
Emotional Health and Sleep
Lack of sleep also can considerably affect your mental/emotional health, such as depression. Case in point, 90% of people with depression report problems sleeping [source]. And while this may be a “chicken or the egg” scenario, we have evidence that there is a clear link between sleep problems and depression. For example, those who suffer from insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea report significantly higher rates of depression [source].
Also, motivation and social interactions are negatively impacted by lack of sleep – both of which are integral to your sense of satisfaction and well being.
As you can see, sleep plays an integral role in all of the areas of life that we evaluate for living a “quality life.” If you live in Alaska and find that you are suffering from chronic sleep deprivation, please reach out to us by taking this free online sleep test and start your road to living a higher quality, restful life.