Sleep deprivation is not only about bad mood and caffeine abuse. According to the results of a 14-year study published in 2004, long-term mortality risks in women were lowest among those sleeping 6 to 7 hours. The risk of death in women sleeping 5 hours or less was 15% higher than for those sleeping 7 hours. Interestingly, if they slept more than 9 hours a night, their chances to die were even higher – 42% than those of seven-hour sleepers. Researchers failed to find an adequate explanation of that fact. The idea they found most feasible was that sleeping too much is a very early symptom of some issues that had been diagnosed yet.
The sleep deprivation increases chances of developing diabetes and obesity, which in turn make you more prone to die from cardiovascular disease. Moreover, even if you do not get weight, your chances to get a coronary heart disease will be 33% – 45% higher if you sleep less than 5 hours (and 8% – 18% if you sleep 6 hours) as compared to 7 – 8 hours. Not getting enough sleep increases risks of developing breast and colon cancers. For the latter researchers of the Case Western Reserve University revealed especially frightening statistics: if you regularly sleep less than 6 hours, your chances to get colorectal cancer are 50% higher than those of people averaging 7 hours per night are.
The impact of sleep deprivation on your brain is more evident, but still often underestimated. According to one study, spending one sleepless night had the impact on the drivers’ skills in the morning than drinking 4 shots of whisky or vodka an hour before driving for a 185-pound man. Scientifically proven is a very negative impact the sleep deprivation makes on important mental functions, especially working memory, and abilities necessary for multitasking and flexible thinking.
Unlike physical illnesses where sweet spot seems to be a seven-hour sleep per night, cognitive functions require 8 hours to be at their best. Researchers found that an average person after 16 hours of wakefulness gets more stupid and absent-minded than usual.
Sleep at least 7 hours a day and, if your cognitive performance is critically important for you, try not to go below 8 hours a day.
There is no need to panic if from time to time you happen to sleep 6 hours a day, but, unless a deadline brought you to bay, avoid any creative work after 16 hours after you woke up. You may like neither its results nor its efficiency.
If you regularly tend to sleep nine hours a day or more become alerted, consult with your doctor, and get some critical screening performed.
Have a nice sleep!