We’ve all heard the stories about extremely successful entrepreneurs who sleep just a few hours a night and spend those extra “wasted” hours developing and improving their businesses. However, this is not the norm and should not be treated as a goal. Generally speaking, adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep a night in order to properly function on a daily basis.
If you want to look at it from a financial perspective, the estimated economic impact of sleep deprivation in the United States is $411 billion. Yes, that’s ‘billion,’ with a ‘B.’ Various factors feed into this statistic: fatal car crashes due to drowsiness, medical expenses tied to physical and mental issues stemming from insomnia, etc.
What are some of the more personal consequences of sleep deprivation? Well, in the United States:
- People with severe insomnia are seven times more likely to have work-related accidents than those who sleep at least seven hours a night.
- Forty percent of people with insomnia are believed to also be affected by at least one mental health disorder.
- Approximately 75 percent of adults with depression suffer from insomnia.
- About 80 percent of people who take prescription sleep medicines experience residual effects like oversleeping, feeling groggy, and having a hard time concentrating the next day.
- Adults who sleep under seven hours a night have a 41 percent increased risk of developing obesity.
- People sleeping fewer than seven hours a night have a 13 percent higher risk of death from heart disease when compared to those who sleep more.
- The risk of developing type two diabetes increases by 48 percent for individuals who sleep less than five hours a night. 1, 2
Let’s look at five ways that sleep boosts performance:
- When you sleep, your body and brain regenerate and recover from the day. Sleep gives your heart a chance to rest, lowers your blood pressure, and decreases you stress levels to promote cardiovascular health.
- Sleep initiates the production of hormones needed to keep your immune system functioning as efficiently as possible, enabling you to fight off illness and keep you productive in your personal and work life.
- Your mood and mental health benefit from a good night’s sleep, helping you to better avoid burnout or fatigue.
- Your cognitive abilities decrease when you don’t get enough sleep, slowing your ability to think clearly. This can make you more error-prone, which can impact your job performance or lead to accidents and injuries on and off the job.
What are the benefits of good sleep?
- Your memory improves. The neural pathways created during sleep enable you to remember information better and longer. You won’t have to constantly recheck your information, which will make you more efficient at whatever you’re doing, whether it’s creating a presentation or cooking a new recipe.
- Creativity gets a boost. Our brains reorganize memories as we sleep, helping us to see situations in a new way. This can improve our problem-solving skills, allowing us to be more flexible in our thinking.
- Reduce your inflammation. Inflammation is linked to several health conditions – cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and autoimmune disease, for example. Those who sleep longer may have a reduced risk of developing these diseases, and less likely to take time off for illness.
- Maintain a healthy weight. The same areas of your brain that control sleep also regulate your metabolism. Dieters who slept properly at night lost more fat than those who did not, though both groups lost about the same amount of weight, meaning those who did not sleep enough are more likely to lose muscle mass than those who sleep well.3
Are you trying to sleep enough hours but having problems falling or staying asleep? Here are a few tips:
- Reduce blue light exposure at night by turning off the TV, your electronic devices, and bright lights two hours before bed.
- Don't consume caffeine too close to bedtime. Caffeine can stay in your blood for six to eight hours.
- Reduce long or irregular naps during the day. While short power naps can be beneficial, naps over 30 minutes can actually hurt your sleep quality at night.
- Create a relaxing evening routine. Relaxation techniques such as meditating, deep breathing, drinking something hot (without caffeine), and reading can help improve sleep quality.4
These are only some of the statistics out there regarding how important sleep is to proper daily functioning, but we hope it’s enough to convince you that sleep isn’t just something you do when you have time. For all the showing-off we often do about how little sleep we think we need, or outright bragging about being so busy that we don’t sleep, chances are that your career and quality time at home will take a hit in the long run. If you suffer from a sleep disorder, please talk to your doctor about ways you can resolve the problem.
World Sleep Day is organized every year in March by the World Sleep Day Committee of the World Sleep Day Society. It was created to emphasize the importance of sleep-related issues from which so many suffer every day.
1Suni, Eric. Medically reviewed by Truong, Kimberly. "Sleep Statistics." Sleep Foundation. 2/13/23. Accessed 3/10/23. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/sleep-facts-statistics
2Leech, Joe, MS. Medically reviewed by Villalobos, Nick, MD. "10 Reasons to Get More Sleep." Healthline. 1/6/22. Accessed 3/10/23. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-reasons-why-good-sleep-is-important
3Lowe, Kelly. "10 Reasons Why Sleep Improves Your Mental Health and Productivity at Work." Engage for Success. Accessed 3/10/23. https://engageforsuccess.org/productivity/why-healthy-sleep-makes-you-more-productive-engage-for-success/
4Mawer, Rudy. Medically reviewed by Arnarson, Atii BSc, PHD. "17 Proven Tips to Sleep Better at Night." Healthline. 2/27/23. Accessed 3/10/23.