According to a 2016 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Week Report, more than one third of American adults are not getting as much sleep as they should be on a regular basis. The recommended amount of sleep, per the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society, is seven or more hours per night — also deemed "a health necessity for adults" by the association.
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But what happens when sleep disorders come into play, or when personal schedules become an inconvenience and damage sleep quality? What happens when one gets five hours of sleep instead of the recommended seven?
Northwestern University associate professor of Neurology Kristen L Knutson says "there is laboratory evidence that short sleep durations of four to five hours have negative physiological and neurobehavioral consequences." In other words, restful sleep is essential to physical health, and dozing for short increments or getting five hours of sleep does not allow the restorative process to take place.
Many Americans might still be wondering — is five hours of sleep enough? And many still don't understand the mental and physical effects of not getting enough sleep. Here is how your sleeping patterns might be affecting your life.
Only sleeping five hours per night will leave you with chronic sleep debt.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, most people need between 7.5 and 9 hours of continuous sleep nightly — and "sleeping in" on the weekends will not counteract sleeping five or six hours a night for the rest of the week. According to Harvard Medical School, a sleep debt cause by continual deprivation is not only more difficult to recognize the more it is accumulated, but also comes with health risks that include weight gain, diabetes, heart disease and memory loss. The body sleeps in stages that shift every 90 minutes over the course of an average eight-hour night. A sleep disorder or poor habits that block this progression create sleep debt. Feeling tired and listless follow from not getting enough sleep or experiencing poor sleep quality.
Only sleeping five hours peer night can leave you feeling mentally impaired.
Harvard Health notes a strong connection between sleep and mental health — patients with anxiety and depression oftentimes experience sleep issues as well.
Other effects of sleep depravation include a dent in one's ability to think clearly, react quickly and form memories. These mental effects make work, study and everyday thinking activities more difficult. They can also impact interpersonal relationships. General mental impairment plus an increased chance for clinical depression and substance abuse make sleep-deprived workers a hiring risk. A 2017 "fatigue cost calculator" developed by the Brigham Health for the National Safety Council estimated that average sized Fortune 500 companies are losing about $80 million annually do to employee fatigue.
Only sleeping five hours per night can leave you physically impaired.
The Better Sleep Council counts physical agility, coordination and energy as some of the victims of insufficient sleep quality. Heart functions, physical endurance and reaction time also suffer when a person doesn’t get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation notes an increased risk for immune system and nervous system problems, obesity and diabetes in people with sleep disorders. But perhaps the most dangerous physical effect of short sleep duration is the combination of sleepy drivers and motor vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 72,000 crashes and 800 deaths in 2013 happened due to drowsy driving.
Overall, it's safe to say that only sleeping five hours a night will not make your mind or body feel good. Having difficulty falling asleep? Try these yoga poses and simple exercises that will help you get to sleep or take a page from these pro athletes' sleep books.