Rates of sleeping disorders in Australia are at an all-time high, and sleep deprivation is becoming an increasingly alarming issue in our developed world. In a society where being busy or having no time to sleep is the mark of a successful or influential person, it is hard to get people to understand just how important sleep is for their bodies.
In 2012 to 2013, some 75,000 people left a hospital with the diagnosis of a sleep disorder, and that’s really just the base of the issues associated with it. Not sleeping is almost as bad for you as smoking cigarettes, and it leads to Alzheimer’s, obesity, poor concentration at work or school, and a host of other issues It also costs $36.4 billion each year in Australia alone.
People believe that if they “catch up” on sleep on the weekends, it doesn’t matter that they’re not sleeping well during the week, but this simply isn’t true. It can take your body five nights of sleeping 12 hours to regain what it loses in functionality during a week. Take a look at just some of the lasting issues sleep deprivation can have:
Obesity. You are more likely to make other poor health decisions when sleep deprived. Because you’re awake longer, you have more time to eat, and because your body is exhausted, you don’t have the energy to exercise. This leads to fast weight gain that can in turn lead to other issues such as heart disease, heart attacks, or strokes.
Accidents. You have less ability to stay focused and alert when you’re tired. This can to problems ranging from making mistakes on the job, to errors while driving that could well be fatal. Keep in mind that sleep deprivation has been linked to many road fatalities. Driving after having been awake for 24 hours causes impairment that’s equivalent to 0.05 blood alcohol content, which is illegal in Australia.
Cancer, Anxiety, Depression. A whole host of health issues come into play when you are sleep deprived. Lack of proper rest may allow certain cancers to spread more rapidly. You are also more susceptible to pain without sleep. As many as 42 million Americans have their sleep disrupted by aches and pains multiple times per week, but in cancer patients, it is even more of an issue. Numerous studies have also clearly linked sleeplessness with depression and anxiety. If you’re really that busy, use public transport and pick up a travel pillow. You can catch a few extra minutes on the way to where you’re going!
Academic and Work Performance Issues This one should be a given, but you are not as productive or effective if you’re exhausted. Sleep enhances your ability to be alert and focused, therefore allowing you to problem-solve and get more tasks done more quickly. Students who are better rested can perform up to 15% better on exams than those who are sleep deprived.