As I am sitting down to work, I notice that I am making way too many typing mistakes. This is not because I don’t know where the keys are. It’s because I have been travelling and I have not gotten enough sleep. I am carrying what is called a “sleep debt.” That may not sound too scary, until you discover exactly what that means. Here are some interesting facts about lack of sleep that you might not be aware of.
You can live longer without food than you can without sleep. Yes, you read that right. In fact if you are a human and not being subjected to some kind of physical torture, you will sleep before you die simply because you have a built in survival mechanism that will not allow you to go without sleep. If you are a lab rat, you will last approximately 32 days. The amount of time a human can go without food is approximately two months. So, no sleep, = one month. No food, = two.
I am the first to admit I am bad at math but this rather seems to suggest that sleep is twice as important as food.
Sleep also plays a key role in the regulation of the hormones ghrelin (the one that makes you feel hungry) and leptin (the one that makes you feel full.) People who carry a sleep debt often feel ravenous as a result of the reduction in leptin, making obesity one of the potential side effects of not getting enough sleep. I can’t help wondering how many people who think they are hungry are actually just tired. And what about the kids?
Recent studies are suggesting that diagnosis of ADHD and ADD could be a result of insufficient or interrupted sleep in both kids and adults. Studies have also shown that children and teens who are sleep deficient may have problems getting along with others. They may feel angry and impulsive, have mood swings, feel sad, depressed, or lack motivation. Lack of sleep alters the brain imparing, the ability to cope with change, make decisions and solve problems. Lack of focus can result in lower grades and higher stress levels. It has also been linked to depression suicide and risk taking behavior. Yikes!
Worldwide the number of hours we have been sleeping has been in continuous decline over the past 100 years. In an environment full of over stimulation, and inactivity, we are losing a lot more than sleep. We are losing our health and even our lives.
This year, as Fall approaches and the new school year begins, perhaps one of the best things we could do would be to “fall back” and reclaim some lost hours of good old fashioned sleep.