Wake Up Call

The truth about sleep deprivation

By Natallia Staravoitava

Giraffes can survive on just 30 minutes of sleep per day, yet for many of us, getting seven hours sleep per night can be a challenge. Missing that highway exit, overdosing on coffee, lashing out at your co-worker, and looking like a hot mess are all possible consequences of sleep deprivation.

Humans spend one third of every day sleeping, and yet the buzz number is 25. Minutes? Dollars? Nope. Years. We spend an average of 25 years of our lives sleeping! Imagine how significant sleep is to our overall health.

You might think that if you sleep less you will have more time to enjoy life. Wrong! Reduced sleep chops years off your life. Lack of sleep can increase your risk of having high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. According to a study conducted by the American College of Cardiology, there is a 24 per cent spike in the amount of heart attacks on the Monday following daylight savings time when we spring ahead and lose an hour of sleep.

Many of us want to boost our immune systems and lose some weight. Well, sleep deprivation does the opposite. When you don’t sleep well enough or long enough, your hormones get out of whack, resulting in increased hunger and difficulty controlling the glucose levels that help your body burn calories.

Fall is here and that means back to school and work. If you think that trading sleep to tackle your to-do list is a smart idea, think again. Sleep deprivation has been shown to reduce memory, concentration and productivity. Moreover, people who don’t sleep enough are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and mood swings. Your love life may also be at risk. Lack of sleep can lead to decreased sex drive, infertility and erectile dysfunction because it causes your brain to suppress the production of sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone.

Speaking of testosterone, “Men who routinely sleep just four to five hours a night will have a level of testosterone equal to that of someone ten years their senior,” says world-renowned sleep scientist Matt Walker. Not to mention the fact that, “Men who sleep five hours a night have significantly smaller testicles than those who sleep seven hours or more.”

According to the Sleep Research Society, skin hydration, elasticity and radiance are all significantly reduced with sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep can also lead to breakouts, redness, dark under-eye circles and premature aging.

So if you’re a gent who wants larger testicles or a lady who wants flawless skin, hop into bed and start racking up those Zzzs!

Tips to improve sleep

  • Prioritize sleep: it is not an option, it is a necessity for your health
  • Your bedroom is a sleep zone, not a cafeteria, a cinema or a tech hub
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and heavy meals in the evening
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends
  • Relax your brain and body before sleep (e.g. bath, meditation, reading, relaxing music)
  • Keep your bedroom cool; aim for 18°C
  • Exercise daily
  • Get enough daylight during the day, and keep your room dark at night
  • Treat yourself with a high quality mattress and pillow; they can make a huge difference!


Fall 2019, Vol 11 N°4

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