How many hours did you sleep the last night? The answer to this question is more important than you probably think. Sleep is vital to your health and wellbeing. But, getting just a few hours of sleep per night won’t satisfy your body and brain’s need for this much-needed rest.
In fact, your brain uses this time to go through all memories and delete the unimportant ones, thus making space for new information. So, not getting enough sleep will affect your concentration, memory, decision-making, creativity, and mood.
Besides your brain, the amount you sleep affects almost every other organ and system in your body. This means not sleeping enough will take its toll on your health.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Your Health
Central Nervous System – it affects memory, concentration, mood, etc. Insomnia can lead to hallucinations, depression, impulsive behavior, and paranoia.
Immune System – it weakens the immune system, thus making you more susceptible to illnesses, as well as chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
Respiratory System – it can worsen existing conditions like chronic lung illness, and increase the risk of respiratory infections like colds and flues.
Digestive System – it can promote weight gain and increase the levels of insulin. As a result, it increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and promotes fat storage.
Cardiovascular System – it affects the blood pressure, blood sugar, and inflammation. Also, it raises the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Endocrine System – it affects the production of the growth hormones, especially in kids and teenagers.
Guidelines for Sleep Hours
Even though the general belief is that the right amount of sleep is 8 hours per night, it can vary depending on your age. A group of researchers guided by the professor Charles Czeisler have researched this particular matter.
They wanted to see how much sleep is enough for different age groups, as well as what are the effects of sleep deprivation on one’s body and mind. Later, the National Sleep Foundation supported these findings.
They discovered the following:
- Age group of 0 to 3 months, or newborns – 14 to 17 hours
- 4 to 11-month babies – 12 to 15 hours
- 1 to 2-year old kids – 11 to 14 hours
- 3 to 5-year old kids, or preschool age – 10 to 13 hours
- 6 to 13-year old kids, or school age – 9 to 11 hours
- 14 to 17-year old kids, or teens – 8 to 10 hours
- 18 to 25-year old youth – 7 to 9 hours
- 26 to 64-year old adults – 7 to 9 hours
- Adults over 65 years, or seniors – 7 to 8 hours
How to Catch Up on Lost Sleep
There’s only one way to catch up on lost sleep – to get more sleep! But, it will take more than few nights to compensate for the lost sleep, especially if you’ve been sleep deprived for months. The recovery should take several weeks.
At first, try to add on one or two extra hours a night during the weekends. Then, gradually adjust the time according to your age group.
Also, don’t use energy drinks or caffeine to stay awake or focused during the day. Even though they increase your concentration and energy temporarily, they can affect your sleep in the long term.