Feeling a bit grumpy lately? It could be that you’ve just been getting up on the wrong side of the bed. If you haven’t managed to get a decent night’s sleep, though, it’s more likely that your bad mood is due to a lack of shuteye. While allocating the amount of time required to get sufficient sleep can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, the drawbacks of failing to sleep enough extend far further – into the realm of health risks.

Need vs. Want

The verdict is in, and it’s official. Adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day. Yes, that includes busy, sleep-deprived Americans. Some of us can get away with fewer hours, and many need a bit more, but our individual needs are determined by our Circadian Rhythms, not by the amount of time we feel we can devote. Sleep is an area in which it pays to honor your needs over your desires – unless your desire involves climbing into your PJ’s at 7:30 and settling down with a warm decaf drink for an early night.

The Relevant Risks

The impacts of sleep deprivation on overall health are far-reaching. Just a few nights of lost sleep can cause fatigue, shortened temper, and lack of focus. Over time, accumulating sleep debt can lead to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and a shorter life expectancy. Since sleep bolsters the immune system and the creation of memories, skipping out on it leaves us vulnerable to illness and makes us more forgetful.

Why are we sleeping less?

Sleepless nights hit us all from time to time, for various reasons. Maybe you’re incessantly busy and staying up to deal with work issues, or you’re anxious about something and kept awake by nagging worry. It could be that you’re suffering from a lack of sleep due to a waking baby or a naughty pet. Discomfort can also keep you awake; if you’re feeling too hot or cold, or fighting the urge to replace your worn-out mattress, you’ll undoubtedly experience disrupted sleep.

Tired of Being Tired

The odd restless night here and there won’t hurt too much, but it can leave you feeling a bit out of sorts and struggling to concentrate. A short-term lack of sleep can make you feel irritable and low on energy, so don’t make a habit of sharing too little quality time with your bed. If you find you’re frequently missing out on sleep, then it’s time to take action; otherwise, you could wind up with bigger problems than bags under your eyes. An accumulation of sleepless nights will lead to more significant problems down the road.

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