Effects Of A Lack Of Sleep: Increase In Diseases And Accidents
Only 45% of Singaporeans are getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep every night!
We have all heard that we need to sleep longer hours but in this day and age with multiple distractions, it is a hard feat to achieve. Especially for new parents who barely get four of sleep every night - the struggle is real. But the general consensus is that we can all catch up on sleep and that it is not a major health concern—and here is where we are all wrong.
Many recent studies reiterate that sleep is extremely important and it is not just for our beautiful growing babies but also for the rest of the population.
At insurance giant AIA's recent #OneMoreHour initiative, Professor Michael Chee, a sleep expert from Duke-NUS Medical School and Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine in Singapore, observed how people in Asia are dying a slow death due to poor sleep habits. "We all aspire to go higher, further and faster than our previous selves. But the way we try to do this is by often staying back late in the office or burning the midnight oil." These methods, he says, lead to poor cognition abilities and tires us out rather than making us more productive.
According to AIA's survey, only 55% of Singaporeans get six hours or lesser sleep every night. This is worrying because not getting a good night's sleep of seven to nine hours every night for adults leads to a whole bunch of problems.
Here are the 5 effects of sleep deprivation:
Chronic diseases such as diabetes, stroke, and high blood pressure are more likely to show up for people who are sleep deprived than those who are not. This is because when you sleep, a lot of important and necessary processes take place in your body. Chemicals are activated in the brain that lower our heart rate and blood pressure and tissues and cells are repaired. Essentially, it is the body's maintenance time. By not giving your body enough time to recover from the day, you are restricting repair of your old tissues and cells which will eventually lead to an increase in chronic and cardiovascular diseases.
The less sleep you get the more tired you are and the more sick leaves you take. This also applies to kids, if they are not getting enough sleep they are going to end up disrupting their studies with unnecessary leaves that can be avoided. However, Professor Chee also mentioned that sending kids to school or going to work with less sleep is a worse predicament. "Adults are in the office but they are so tired that they just sit there as seat warmers because they don't have the energy to work," he added.
Of course, the lack of sleep leads to accidents not only on the roads but also at work. Our productivity and concentration go for a toss as our sleepiness takes the front seat. The same thing goes for work problems. How many times have you noticed a mistake which could have been avoided if you were not so sleepy? The longer you are at work does not mean the more productive you are to the company. In fact, you are likely to make more mistakes.
Besides affecting your work and health, lack of sleep also spills into your personal life. Less sleep decreases the body's production of sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone and increases stress hormones like cortisol. So as a result, you will not only have a lower sex drive but also other issues like erectile dysfunction or infertility.
Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline kick in the minute you are depriving yourself of sleep. These hormones then send your body into a fight-or-flight mode which causes you to stay awake for a longer time. Besides that, our moods are also heavily affected by less sleep as our normal demeanour is replaced with a more crankier and generally irritable mood.
Sleep really does affect many facets of our lives. By depriving ourselves of a good night's sleep we are inviting problems to our future. As Professor Chee aptly summed up, "There is no other medication or supplement that covers a slew of medical problems as much as a full eight hours of sleep. Why pay for all this, when you can do this yourself?"