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Dozing off
Effects of sleep deprivation

09/11/14
By Joel Bergeron



Do you need energy drinks to keep you going throughout the day? Are you constantly fatigued? Do you often feel anxious? If you don’t have coffee before heading to work, do you tend to be more forgetful? All of these may be the result of lack of sleep. But there are a number of other alarming health effects you may not be aware of, too.
 
When we sleep, the body repairs itself, producing crucial hormones and chemicals that help us heal and helping our bodies and minds prepare for the next day. The recommended amount of sleep is 7 to 10 hours per night, and it should involve the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage, or deep sleep. When this cycle is shortened or interrupted, we suffer myriad health symptoms, some as obvious as an extra yawn or dreary eyes and others that are more subtle, such as cognitive dysfunction. Sleep deprivation has been linked to mental confusion, decreased focus, depression, anxiety, decreased confidence and weight gain, and it significantly effects both your level of productivity and quality of work. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cites that sleepy drivers cause 100,000 accidents a year.
 
What’s more daunting is that losing a few hours one night has an accumulating effect. This is called “stacking.” For instance, if we need 7 hours a night of shut-eye but we’re only getting 6, every 7 days that’s like pulling a once a week all-nighter.  If you’ve ever crammed for an exam, you remember how miserable you felt the next day or two.  
 
Consistently losing 1 hour per night of sleep is the equivalent of losing 48 days of sleep per year. That’s like staying up for 6 weeks straight. Following these types of patterns leads to things such as shortened life span, hair loss, accelerated aging and higher health risk, because your body doesn’t have a chance to fix itself like it should. It happens so gradually that most people never recognize why they’re feeling run down and unhappy.
 
So how do we catch up on our z’s? Many times, getting a good night’s rest needs to be planned out just like you plan your day — by managing your schedule efficiently.  Think of it like this:  We have 168 hours a week.  If we need at least 7 hours of sleep per night (we’ll say 50 hours total), that leaves us with 118 hours remaining in our week.  Throw in a 40-hour a week job plus commuting time (let’s say an average of 6 hours per week), and now you have 72 hours left over.  That’s roughly 10 hours a day to take care of the rest of your responsibilities, such as eating, bathing, recreation, personal time, relationships with friends and family, etc.
 
By managing life better, it’s possible to receive all the rest you need. If your schedule permits, taking a nap in the middle of the day helps get in the hours of recovery you need. Just make sure you don’t get caught nodding off at your work desk.
 
Do you have a question about health and fitness that you’d like answered in the Healthy Hippo? Email Joel Bergeron at info@nlpstrength.com. Joel is a former NCAA D1 and professional sports coach and holds a master’s degree in sport science. Be sure to check with your doctor before changing your eating habits or embarking on a new exercise program. 





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