Without a doubt, you will encounter someone who only gets five hours of sleep and says that they function great! You may be wondering if something is wrong with you because you can barely function on less than seven hours of sleep after just one day. But, it is very rare that someone can truly be functioning at their optimal peak while consistently sleeping five hours of day.
The number of recommended sleep varies by age. However, not achieving that bottom number on a consistent basis will lead to an increasing sleep debt. Sleep debts are the accumulation of lost hours of sleep that can eventually have significant physical and mental outcomes.
Therefore, consistently sleeping only 5 hours of night can lead to a continuous accumulation of 3 hours a night. That is 21 hours a week. Overtime, that number becomes harder and harder to reduce. Continue reading to learn more about the effects of only receiving 5 hours of sleep a night.
What happens after 5 hours of sleep?
Only getting five hours of sleep has profound effects on one's mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. Daily functioning declines, and after just one night of insufficient sleep, individuals can experience a myriad of drawbacks. Some do feel like they are thriving on five hours of sleep, and that it is adequate for them. However, research shows that more than likely, these individuals just became used to the effects of sleep deprivation.
One drawback of only getting five hours of sleep is the impact on cognitive functioning. Not getting enough sleep makes it harder to concentrate, and can increase reaction times. It also become more difficult to make decisions and work though complex tasks.
Sleep is also vital for memory and learning. As adults, our minds continue to learn, so it's important that we give our brain the energy it needs to do so. Learning happens in the later parts of the sleep cycle, so if we only allow ourselves three total cycles, then we are missing out on vital opportunities for memories to be consolidated for sustained learning.
The lack of sleep can also have an effect on mood. Sleep deprived individuals can be more irritable or moody. It is harder for them to manage their emotions, work through inconveniences, and can cause them to be more moody or short-tempered with those around them.
Physical health declines as well. People who work out a lot are more prone to injury after only a short amount of sleep. The immune system also take a hit when individuals do not sleep enough. This increases one's susceptibility to illnesses, and can prolong recovery. If one is trying to lose weight, this can also impact that as well, as sleep deprivation can increases the risk of developing metabolic diseases and obesity.
Overall, one's quality of life is ruined by sleep deprivation. Sometimes, people don't realize it because it's been so long since they've functioned on an adequate amount of sleep. However, those who do sleep an adequate amount have different experiences of what life is like.
Factors causing us to not get enough sleep
Life is so busy and chaotic, that sleep is often the first thing to go. We view sleep as a luxury instead of a necessity. Therefore, some of the things causing us not to get enough sleep include:
- Late night revenge procrastination. This is when your day is so busy that you take night time to do the things that you want to do. This could include scrolling on social media (which is a problem within itself), watching your favorite show, or just spending time with your family.
- Work demands can also make getting enough sleep difficult. You may feel the need to stay up late to finish something, or get up early and into the office to get ahead. Regardless, the stress from work can interfere with sleep, and make it difficult to get the required time.
- Shift work disorder is for those who work non-traditional hours that mess up one's sleep schedule. Shift workers have unique sleep needs because they may need to sleep when the sun is out. This completely flips their circadian rhythm, which can lead to a fluctuation of hormones.
- Sleep disorders are another significant cause of sleep deprivation. Insomnia, restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea, etc., are all examples of sleep disorders that interfere with one's ability to get a good night's rest.
- Sleeping environment is vital as well. The three main points of a sleep environment are cool, dark, and quiet. If your sleeping environment does not have these three components, then it can be difficult to get a good night's rest. Your body thrives in cooler temperatures, and a quiet and dark environment that does not stimulate your brain.
How to get enough sleep each night
Regardless of the reasons that you are not getting enough sleep, continuing to not do so is going to worsen some of the effects we've previously discussed. If you are committed to improving your sleep, then here are some tips to help you do that.
Set a bedtime schedule and routine. If you have a set bedtime, then you can work backwards and create a routine that helps you wind down. This can include activities like taking a shower/bath, reading, yoga/stretching, drinking a sleepy-time tea, or spending time with friends/family. It's important to not do anything particularly stimulating that could make it harder for you to go to sleep.
Avoid electronics an hour before bed. The blue light emitted from the screen can interfere with melatonin release. Melatonin is vital for helping the body prepare for sleep and stay asleep. Turning off your electronics an hour before bed gives your brain enough time to produce all the melatonin it needs to get your body into sleep mode.
Avoid certain substances, like caffeine, alcohol and nicotine, as they can have negative effects on one's sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant, as is nicotine, which is the complete opposite of what you want before bed. Alcohol interrupts your sleep architecture, and prevents REM sleep, which is rapid eye movement. That phase of sleep is important for memory consolidation and truly feeling rested.
For shift workers, working a variety of shifts, using blackout curtains, and attempting to regulate your circadian rhythm as much as possible will help you overcome sleep issues associated with your working hours.
If you struggle with getting good sleep, then please click the orange button below to take a free online sleep test and talk with one of our sleep health experts.