December 10, 2013

The Importance Of A Good Night's Sleep


To students out there cramming for exams or term papers, to writers sweating blood over their latest opus, to anyone, in short, pulling all-nighters on a regular basis, a word of caution.

Here are some side effects of sleep deprivation, and they're no joke:
  • Causes accidents:  lack of sleep can slow down your reaction time as much as if you were drunk. Think that ain't so bad?  Think again. Apparently, the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl was a result of it, among other catastrophes.
Chernobyl 25 years later
  • Dumbs you down:  sleep deprivation impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning and problem solving (which would be counterproductive to all your studies/work).  This also leads you to becoming more forgetful.
  • Health problems: 
    • Heart disease/attack.
    • Irregular heartbeat.
    • High blood pressure.
    • Diabetes.
    • Inhibits growth hormone (the hormone that helps repair your body--tissues, muscles, bones, etc--and is a major fat-burning hormone as well): it's during sleep that the growth hormone's released.
    • Death.
  • No sex drive:  (ooooh, did that one get your attention?) because of depleted energy levels, sleepiness, increased tension, and for men reduction in levels of testosterone.
  • Depression:  what's worse, is that sleeplessness and depression feed on each other, like a vicious circle.
  • Ages your skin:  this is mainly due to the excess cortisol that's created because of the stress from not sleeping enough.  This cortisol breaks down skin collagen, and turns itself into layers of fat!
    • Lackluster skin.
    • Fine lines.
    • Dark circles under the eyes.
Yzma, from Disney's
The Emperor's New Groove
  • Weight gain:  increased appetite (and cravings for bad foods), as well as production of cortisol (see point 6), and the lack of the growth hormone being released (see point 3.5) all lead to weight gain.
So what would be a good amount of sleep to have?  From what I've read, 7-9 hours of sleep should work.

In addition, "[r]esearchers at Harvard Medical School conducted a study to determine under what circumstances people best come up with creative solutions.  Their findings showed that people who had a good night's sleep doubled their creative abilities. So, if you're having trouble with that plot line, skip the keg party and hit the mattress. It's better to double your creativity than your aspirin intake." (101 Habits of Highly Successful Novelists).

Sources:
Dr. Berg's The 7 Principles of Fat Burning. (Yep, a healthy diet is very important too!)

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