In an age of long commutes, high-pressure work environments, and electronic devices that keep people constantly connected to the outside world, it can be difficult to fulfill the body’s natural requirement for sleep. On top of all the hectic demands of modern life, people still need time to spend with family and connect with friends.
Faced with so many competing priorities, many see sleep as the one thing they can sacrifice. After all, sugary drinks with a few shots of espresso can kick-start one’s day just as effectively as a full night’s rest, right?
Science says no. Sleep studies indicate that caffeine, adrenaline, willpower, and whatever else individuals use to substitute for sleep are no substitute at all. They are temporary stopgaps to exhaustion that might work once in awhile, but chronic sleep deprivation results in lowered immunity, decreased mental and physical ability, emotional instability, and angst that no double-shot latte could correct.
When it comes to daily performance, sleep deprivation’s first casualties are mental alertness, cognitive skills, and memory. According to a recent study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, sleep-deprived people are a hazard to themselves and others on the road not just because they might fall asleep.
Even if a massive, caffeinated drink keeps a tired driver’s eyes open, reflexes, judgment, and perception are slow. These issues don’t correct themselves once the tired driver gets out of their car. Instead, they continue to suffer from these deficits at work, school, and home.
The sleep-deprived are often unpleasant to be around, too. This extends beyond a little bit of morning crankiness. The National Sleep Foundation notes that the proper amount of sleep is necessary for the brain to regulate the flow of epinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. These are the chemicals that regulate mood. If these chemicals are out of balance, a person becomes depressed, irritable, and unsociable.
Additionally, a good night’s sleep boosts immunity, better equipping a person to fend off all the germs they encounter at work, school, and in public. Lack of sleep also increases appetite, which leads to binge eating on unhealthy food, a further suppressor of immunity.
Finally, one’s athletic performance is also affected. The sleep-deprived not only find it difficult to muster the energy to exercise, they also lose out on the benefits because for exercise to be effective in increasing strength, adequate sleep must occur.
Sleep is the very crux of our daily performance. Therefore, if you find yourself experiencing any of the symptoms noted above, it is time you shake yourself of your sleep-neglecting mindset and reevaluate your priorities. Surely, there are certain commitments that can be shifted to ensure you get your vital sleeping schedule back on track.