Sleep deprived? You may not think so, but the Centers for Disease Control recommend 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, but one out of every three adults regularly come up short.
I’m one of them. I average about 4.5 hours a night. Some days less, some days more. But that got me really thinking about the side effects of not sleeping enough. What actually happens when you don’t get enough sleep?
- You get distracted more easily. Your brain starts to look for distractions just to keep you awake, and that makes focusing a challenge. You probably feel like you’re really good at multi-tasking, but that’s basically your brain telling you that you need sleep.
- You’re more anxious. A study out of Berkeley had participants go a full night without sleep. The ended up experiencing anxiety levels 30% higher than normal. And half of the participants ended up reaching anxiety levels that are typically found in a person with an anxiety disorder.
- Bring on the anger. Last year a study found that people who get less than 4.5 hours of sleep a night have a much shorter fuse and are more easily irritated by little things, such as a barking dog…or your coworkers.
- You may take bigger risks. Researchers asked a group of men between 18 and 28 to go on 5 hours of sleep for a week back in 2017 then put them in a scenario where they had to gamble. Well it turned out that they were much more likely to make risky bets on less sleep.
So what can you do to help yourself if you are feeling like you’re missing out on sleep? Studies suggest getting out in the sun; taking breaks to move around or to stretch; drinking coffee, but you need to be careful not to overdo it; and, if possible, nap for 20 minutes. That’s apparently the sweet spot, where it will make a difference, but not leave you feeling groggy.
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