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August 24, 2012
Most Americans live busy, fast paced lives. We do everything we can to stay alert during the day, attempting to be as productive as possible. Many people start each morning with coffee, consume energy drinks daily, and even pop pills in a constant effort to stay wired. Then, at the end of the day, they hope for a good night’s sleep in order to rejuvenate themselves for the following day’s work. But, after filling their bodies with caffeine and other substances, it can be hard to wind down. Many find themselves lying in bed for hours, never falling asleep because they can’t get their minds to shut down. Eventually, they find themselves coming down with various signature ailments. Some believe that lack of sleep disturbs the body’s natural ability to heal itself, which occurs best while asleep. Others believe it’s the body’s way of “making” us slow down and get some rest. No matter what you believe, there are consequences that come with sleep deficiency.
Three Consequences of Lack of Sleep
The Wall Street Journal touches on some of the effects of lack of sleep in their article “Decoding the Science of Sleep.” Here are three of those effects:
1 Health Effects
Researchers have continuously found links between bad health and sleep deficiency. People who don’t get an adequate amount of sleep have been found to have higher rates of stroke, obesity, heart disease and certain types of cancers.
2 Mental Effects
Researchers have also found direct correlations between lower mental performance and lack of sleep. There was a time when people believed that sleep was a simple form of turning the brain off temporarily. Although this may be true, in a way it’s much more complex than this. Sleep is a process that allows us to learn new skills, solve problems and react to certain conditions and situations. Doctors have always advised sick patients to get plenty of rest as a natural form of preventative medicine for both patients’ minds and bodies. Just as staying off a broken leg allows the leg time to get stronger, giving our minds a rest gives the mind a chance to get stronger. A lack of sleep leaves our minds tired and worn out, making it almost impossible to take in new information effectively.
3 Increases a Need for Sleep
At some point, every person realizes that they need to go to sleep. Sometimes, even when we’re tired, our brains are so trained to stay alert, that we just can’t fall asleep. This is causing Americans to now spend billions of dollars on anything they can think of to help them pass out. In the quest for a bit of shuteye, people are turning to medical devices, higher quality mattresses, sleep labs, and prescription and over-the-counter drugs in their desperate attempts to beat the fatigue caused by not getting enough sleep.
Getting Sleep Takes Work
For some people, the key to getting restful sleep may be admitting that it takes work. But the work is really worth it when you think about the benefits of sleep. All of the things that help to make us who we really are inside–memories, creativity, relationships, sex, mental abilities, health–depend strongly on giving our minds time to rest and rejuvenate. Sleep deficiency can have some hefty consequences, such as stunting our mental growth and depleting our natural healing powers. Getting a good night’s sleep is instrumental to our everyday lives and happiness.