Sleep is often one of the first things to go when people feel pressed for time. Many view sleep as a luxury and think that the benefits of limiting the hours they spend asleep outweigh the costs. People often overlook the potential long-term health consequences of insufficient sleep, and the impact that health problems can ultimately have on one’s time and productivity.
Many of the costs of poor sleep go unnoticed. Medical conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, develop over long periods of time and result from a number of factors, such as genetics, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise. Insufficient sleep has also been linked to these and other health problems and is considered an important risk factor.
What we do know is that sleeping fewer than about eight hours per night on a regular basis seems to increase the risk of developing a number of medical conditions.
Not surprisingly, these potential adverse health effects can add up to increased health care costs and decreased productivity. More importantly, insufficient sleep can ultimately affect life expectancy and day-to-day well-being. An analysis of data from three separate studies suggests that sleeping five or fewer hours per night may increase mortality risk by as much as 15 percent.
While sleeping well is no guarantee of good health, it does help to maintain many vital functions. One of the most important of these functions may be to provide cells and tissues with the opportunity to recover from the wear and tear of daily life. Major restorative functions in the body such as tissue repair, muscle growth, and protein synthesis occur almost exclusively during sleep. Memory is also consolidated during the sleep cycle.
Sleep experts say there is ample evidence that shows that when people get the sleep they need, they will not only feel better, but will also increase their odds of living healthier, more productive lives.