Hidden Dangers of Inadequate Sleep

Everyone can agree that sleep problems are a hassle. Individuals who do not get enough sleep or do not sleep well experience difficulty focusing and performing well on daily tasks at work or school. Moreover, they often lack the energy to do the things they enjoy. However, many people are unaware that poor sleep is more than a nuisance, it can also hazardous to your health. Sleep deprivation has been linked to a host of health implications including: obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, depression, unexplained muscle pain, stress, memory problems, tremors, and headaches, just to name a few. One of the main reasons why sleep deprivation does so much damage to the body and mind, is because people do not view it as a significant issue.

Sleep is one of the most important factors in the way a person looks, feels and performs tasks. Still, numerous people continue to believe that difficulty sleeping is a normal part of life and therefore requires little concern. Although everyone may experience minor sleep problems at one time or another, due to anticipation or worry, no one should ever ignore persistent sleep problems. Experiencing symptoms such as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, snoring or simply not feeling rested for more than a few days could be warning signs that it is time to consult a doctor.

Still, there is some controversy surrounding how much sleep a person actually needs. The fact is: there is no perfect amount of sleep. Sleep is not a “one-size-fits-all” activity. Depending on a person’s age group and lifestyle, the amounts can vary a great deal. Additionally, individuals must consider two factors about their personal sleep needs: basal sleep need, which is simply how much sleep is needed for a person to feel and perform at his best, and sleep debt, which refers to sleep that is lost during illness, insomnia or other sleep interruptions.

Researchers believe that an average adult has a basal sleep need of about seven hours a night. However, when the sleep debt is factored into the equation, the number of hours a person needs to sleep may change significantly from day to day. The science behind the basal sleep need and sleep debt relationships is fairly new and therefore still being studied. Still, one point remains clear: adequate, quality sleep is a necessary element in performing at optimum levels. Just as the systems in a machine are sustained by proper maintenance, the mind and body need sufficient sleep, along with the right balance of nutrition, hydration and physical activity to function well.

The amount of sleep a person needs is specific to him. The correct amount for one may not suit another. Thus, individuals must be in tune with the signals given by their body and mind. If a person does not meet his body’s need for rest, it will eventually run down and the consequences could be dire.


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