We’ve all heard about the importance of sleep to our health and well-being at one point or another. It seems that I have someone pleading for me to get more sleep more than once on a daily basis. Oprah, Arianna, Mom…I hear you.
But the science behind sleep is a murky world. As much as we’ve come to learn about what happens to our bodies when we sleep, there’s still a lot we don’t know. The popularity of fitness trackers led to a great demand for sleep tracking as well, which some devices reportedly do for you. What do we do with that data though? How much sleep is enough sleep?
The answers vary and although I’m skeptical about the sleep tracking capabilities of fitness devices, the truth is that most of us are interested in understanding how sleep affects us.
In a recent study published in the journal Science, researchers revealed that sleep acts like a mental janitor, cleaning out all the ‘junk’ we accumulate during the day. If we can clean out our computers’ caches by deleting cookies on a regular basis, why can’t we give our brains that same attention?
So it was a bit of a shock to come across this infographic below and see just how destructive lack of sleep can be to your health in both the short and long-term. We like to think that we can “catch up” on sleep when the weekend hits, but the damage has already been done.
Insufficient sleep negatively impacts cardiovascular health, cognition, emotional well-being and encourages some of the most harmful behaviors that pose a major mortality risk. Some are even going so far as to call it a public health epidemic.
Diabetes? Stroke? Obesity? Increased cancer risk? Potential accidents when driving while exhausted? These are just some of the side effects that lack of sleep offers. And this doesn’t take into account how this may affect your relationships, career, and personal happiness.
The majority of significant sleep studies are performed on white adults with a smaller proportion of African-American adults. Various cultural and language barriers are obstacles to a closer analysis of US Latinos’ sleep health, but given the prevalence of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, and hypertension among Latinos, this raises questions about the role of sleep, or lack thereof, in further exacerbating these conditions.
Take a look at the infographic below, shared by Huffington Post, and consider how your exhaustion (because I’ll bet that most of you do not get enough sleep on a regular basis) may impact your life.
How much sleep do you get each night?
How does lack of sleep affect your efforts to maintain healthy eating and fitness habits?