Not getting enough sleep is detrimental to both your health and productivity. Yawn. We’ve heard it all before. But results from one study impress just how bad a cumulative lack of sleep can be on performance. Subjects in a lab-based sleep study who were allowed to get only six hours of sleep a night for two weeks straight functioned as poorly as those who were forced to stay awake for two days straight. The kicker is the people who slept six hours per night thought they were doing just fine.
The sample size is way too low to take the news seriously, but for a follow-up study? I’d be curious to know how people do when they routinely get 4-6 hours of sleep during the week, but then catch up by sleeping 8-10 on the weekend.
It seems that since the people sleeping 6 hours per night didn’t show really ill effect until 10 days in, that being able to “reset” once or twice per week might make a real difference. I know I’ve had times where I’m suddenly aware that I’m quite tired, go for a nap to find I’ve been out for hours.
If you think there’s a possibility of Alzheimer’s for you, please make sure you make plans with regard to health, etc. before things get bad and you can’t make those decisions anymore. Things easily become a big mess in those situations.
A friend and co-worker in high school was trying to work full time, school full time, and still keep an active social life. They fell asleep at the wheel, went off the road, crashing (in both senses of the word). Injuries were severe – when I last saw them, they had intelligence and vocabulary but struggled to say the words. I haven’t seen them in years, but do remember seeing them on Facebook. It was really rough, getting the news about the crash while at work.
Please don’t let that happen to you or someone you know. I’ve had close calls, stupidly thinking I could “push through it”. Even today, I have time where I learn that I haven’t been sleeping as much or as well as I should be.
In grade school, we were told that “You snooze, you lose.” Now as adults, we know sleep is important, but when life gets hectic it’s often the first thing we cut out. That’s truly our loss. In fact, crappy z’s could be a big reason you aren’t losing weight. Here’s why.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that despite an awful lot of money thrown at this by pharmas (it’s potentially the holy grail of a weight loss pill) while we have some interesting correlates on leptin and ghrelin and sleep and appetite, we haven’t really begun figuring out their mechanisms yet.
In fact, one of the more interesting bits of research that came out after that Chicago study was that that a population with untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has levels of leptin far above what their BMI should indicate, yet they are entirely resistant to its effects on appetite.
It’s also why any study involving leptin or ghrelin should be screening participants for potential sleep disorders, as the latter can wildly skew data. Unfortunately, almost nobody does that.
“Get a good night’s sleep” is classic advice before a big race or event. But if you stayed up late picking out your best shoelaces and then woke up early to make it to the start line on time, have you ruined your chance at a good performance?
The short answer? Yes, total sleep deprivation can almost certainly kill you. What’s less clear is how it does it.
Before we get to the experimental and hypothetical ramifications of total sleep deprivation, let’s pause briefly to address the much more pressing and pernicious issue of poor sleep hygiene, the long-term effects of which can also be deadly.
Sleep is very important, and I’ve found it easy to take for granted while training. If there’s a physical activity – swimming, cycling, running, etc – I have no problem being awake and alert for the duration of the activity. But working at a desk, I’ve noticed serious issues two hours after I’ve done a physical activity. Race season starts in March, and I’m still ironing out my routine.