Remember when you were a child and you begged your parents to let you stay up late? Well don't you wish you had just gone to bed when they said and made the best of it whilst you had the chance? Pretty much the second you leave school the amount you have to get done in the day to day running of your life increases at a rate that can quickly become overwhelming.

Sadly though the time in which you have to accomplish all of the tasks assigned and expected from you does not increase at the same rate. In fact the time you have to meet all of your deadlines does not increase at all; there are 24 hours in a day, no more, no less. So what is the solution? You cannot spend your whole life working and meeting your obligations without enjoyment; so cutting out seeing friends or enjoying a glass wine in the evening is definitely not going to happen.

As a matter of fact the vast majority of us will resign ourselves to taking on less sleep every night, in order to meet what is required of us by others and ourselves. This seems preferable to us as even on 5 hours sleep a night; we feel that so long as our morning shower is followed by injecting caffeine into our systems at regular intervals, we'll be just fine.

This may come as something of a surprise but as it happens this is not the case; simply being awake and alert is not the same as actually feeling awake and alert. Sleep is when your brain and body can focus on fulfilling the tasks that they cannot dedicate themselves too during the waking hours. This makes sleeping one of your most essential processes; one that you can certainly not afford to trivialise.

Quantity Or Quality? 

Sleep is one of those rare things in life where neither quality nor quantity can replace the other. You see sleep happens in cycles, with each cycle consisting of 4 stages, each progressively deeper than the other. Once these four have been completed, which takes roughly 90 minutes, you will have achieved REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

It would not matter if you were on your 8th hour of unbroken sleep, if you are woken up during the later, deeper stages of sleep, you will feel groggy and sluggish. For this reason, if you are going to have a short nap during the day, the shorter the better and it should not be much more than an hour, as you will be approaching REM sleep by this time.

Getting back to the point, it is important to attain sleep that is both high in quality and quantity as one cannot occur without the other. If your mattress is old and uncomfortable for example, then you will keep waking up and breaking your sleep, this will affect the sleeps quality and you will not feel rested even after sleeping for 9 hours. You would suffer from the same restlessness if you slept on the most comfortable mattress for only 3-4 hours a night, as you would only have had the time to cycle through your sleep cycles and into REM sleep once.

The Effects Of Not Getting Enough Sleep

The ideal amount of time spent sleeping for an adult over the age of 18 is anywhere between 7.5 and 9 hours, which is ample time to have completed 3 whole cycles. Achieving less sleep than this can lead to a plethora of negative effects, such as, but in no way limited to:

  • Compromised foetal development
  • Difficulty remembering things and forming new memories
  • Diminished decision making abilities
  • Impaired immune system
  • Increased mental & emotional stress
  • Lethargy
  • Reduced libido
  • Weight-gain

The severity of these symptoms will obviously depend on the duration of time that you have been deprived of sleep for, as well as how deprived of it you are; but irrelevant of the extent of the damage inflicted, your body is still sustaining damage, and it will take a toll.

When you actually manage to attain the levels of sleep your body requires to perform at an optimum rate you will find that you will manage to get a lot more out of your day; purely due to the increased efficiency at which your body and mind will operate. You may well lose an extra hour or two of your day to sleep, but the time you spend awake will be infinitely more productive and rewarding.


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