It goes like this: Get up at 5 a.m. to get ready for work, take the train or drive to the office, start work at 8 a.m. and get out by 5 p.m., only to deal with a long commute back. When you finally get home, you might cook or clean or meet up with friends for a drink or something else. Maybe you work two jobs, so you go to that second job and don’t get home until nearly midnight. You’re tired.
Americans are busy. All of us are just so tired. We live in a culture of exhaustion, and it is definitely taking a toll. Not getting enough sleep or relaxation time can harm the body, from keeping it under constant stress that wears down your health to making you more accident-prone from being too tired to pay attention. But that lack of sleep can really cause problems in your life and relationships as well.
Mood. When you have a sleep shortage, you become more irritable. Your significant other will annoy you more than usual, you might want to yell at your boss, and oh, don’t get me started on that snide co-worker who likes to brag about her latest designer purchases while insinuating her superiority to you. Those things you used to be able to push to the back of your mind because you had other more important concerns now take the forefront when you’re sleep-deprived. You might say something you regret.
Memory and Focus. The sleep-deprived brain can’t focus or concentrate for long, so new information is forgotten quickly. Even older information can be temporarily forgotten because the brain is too tired to access it. Forgetfulness can be dangerous if, for example, you forget to turn off the stove before you leave the house, or forget to blow out your candles before going to bed. In relationships, you might forget an important date or accidentally break a promise.
Safety. In addition to an inability to control your mood or remember important things, a lack of sleep can mess with your concentration and increase your susceptibility to accidents. How many times have you heard of truck drivers falling asleep at the wheel and crashing on the freeway? According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, insufficient sleep has been a contributing factor in tragic accidents that have been tied to significant loss of life. Your body needs sleep in order to function properly, and the longer you go without it, the worse effect it has on your body and in your life. It can affect your job performance, your attention to safety and even be life threatening.
It can be tough to get the recommended amount of sleep your body needs. If you have trouble sleeping, talk with your doctor to find out the cause. Sometimes it could be as simple as getting a new mattress or changing your nightly routine, while other solutions include sleep regulating medicines.
How do you make sure you get enough sleep or get good quality sleep? Share your secrets with your fellow Feather Girls on Facebook or by tweeting @feather_mag!