(Natural News) Are you getting enough sleep every night? If not, it’s high time that you prioritize getting more hours catching those Z’s. American researchers found that losing even 16 minutes of sleep can have negative effects on a person’s daily activities, including increased stress levels and poorer work performance. They published their findings in Sleep Health (Journal of the National Sleep Foundation).
What happens while sleeping?
Sleeping is comprised of two parts: NREM (non-rapid eye movement) and REM (rapid eye movement). People have three to five dreams every night, but only remember those during the REM cycle. On the other hand, it is mostly during the NREM cycle that the body performs self-maintenance.
Here are some reasons why sleep is important to have a healthy body:
- The brain processes all the information it has gathered throughout the day. All short-term memories are filed away for future use during sleeping.
- The body is flooded with hormones, each with its own purpose. One example is the growth hormones released by the pituitary gland, which helps the body grow new tissue and repair itself.
- The immune system releases proteins called cytokines. These proteins help fight against inflammation and prevent the development of conditions such as obesity and diabetes.
How losing sleep can affect your day
Despite the many benefits of sleeping, unfortunately, not everyone getz the needed amount of sleep each day (six to eight hours). A study in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report showed that more than 30 percent of American adults do not get enough sleep each night. If the body is not given enough time to repair itself, it can bode problems for a person’s health in the future.
The study wanted to examine how sleep affects people’s work performance in particular. The working populace plays a crucial role in the day-to-day activities of the whole population, and the researchers wanted to find out if their sleeping patterns can affect their overall performance and mood. Through daily telephone interviews, the researchers measured sleep timing, duration, quality, and latency along with “cognitive interference.” The latter refers to a person’s ability to control his/her thoughts while avoiding intrusive thoughts, like personal worries.
The results showed that getting even 16 fewer minutes of sleep than the usual affects the workers’ performance the following day. The lack of sleep contributed to the rise of cognitive issues, which means that workers were more distracted and lacked focus. Moreover, this produced a snowball effect. As their performance dropped, their stress levels rose. This led to problems in sleeping, and the cycle continued for the rest of the week. The researchers noted that these effects were absent when the workers had no work the next day.
Another consideration was the fact that it was not only the duration but also the consistency of sleeping periods that mattered. People who woke up at the same time each morning exhibited better work-life balance. On the other hand, people with irregular bedtimes had slower metabolism and worse heart health.
It becomes clear that sleep has a direct effect not only on work productivity but also in other aspects of a person’s life. (Related: Sleep is good for your heart, reduces risk of CVD, according to study.)
Tips on getting better sleep
It is difficult to find time for sleep, especially since everything else seems so much more important. However, there are things a person can do to improve their sleep:
- Stick to a sleep schedule — Try to wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day, even on the weekends or your days off.
- Don’t consume caffeine as evening approaches — Caffeine boosts brain activity, which might prevent a person from sticking to his/her sleep schedule.
- Reduce naps — Sleeping during daytime can confuse your internal body clock and prevent you from sleeping at night.
- Optimize your bedroom — Adjust the temperature, noise, and other things in the sleeping environment in order to sleep better.
Sleep is not wasted time. It is the period when the body heals and prepares for another day. Visit Health.news to learn more.