For most of us, the concept of getting a full eight hours of sleep comes off as little more than a fantasy. We’re all busy people with even busier lives, and by the end of the day most of us will settle for five or six hours of rest, firmly promising ourselves that we’ll “go to bed right at ten tomorrow” or “I can catch up on the weekend, no problem!” The truth, though, is that we all need to take some time to really analyze our sleep patterns, because there is a roster of both physical and mental health issues that can arise from sleep loss.
A lack of sleep can take a serious toll on emotional health. Research shows that sleep deprivation leads to an increase in our negative moods. When we don’t get enough rest, we can become angry, irritable, hostile, and even depressed. Furthermore, sleep deprivation is found to cause an increase in emotional reactivity, meaning that someone who is sleep deprived is likely to have a stronger negative reaction when things don’t go well for them. Sleep deprivation also leads to people becoming less friendly and empathic. Basically, resulting in an overall lower degree of happiness and robbing the joy from otherwise pleasant experiences.
The body is not exempt from sleep loss repercussions, either. The effects of sleep deprivation on the body can be hormonal, neurological, vital, or a combination of the three. The physical symptoms can range everywhere from a spike in blood pressure to weight gain and even an increased risk of diabetes. This all sounds scary and rather serious, but the severity of sleep deprivation is somewhat mitigated by the simplicity of the solution. These are modern times, yes, and there is certainly a great deal to do and see, almost too much for the relatively restrictive confines of the waking hours. However, we must realize that sleep is not something to be avoided until absolutely necessary, but rather a cornerstone of a happy and healthy life.