The effects of sleep deprivation

The power of one extra hour is worth hitting the snooze button

Getting through the day on six hours of sleep is like trying to find a table at Shakespeare’s on Saturday night: nearly impossible. Even if you’ve mastered operating on less-than-adequate amounts of sleep, chances are you aren’t at your best.

This is especially true for teens, who research suggests are more alert mid-morning versus early morning. These findings led the Columbia Public School Board to enact an 8:55 a.m. start time for high schoolers this school year instead of at 7:45 a.m. A later time makes mornings less stressful, says Rock Bridge junior Jilly Dos Santos, who led a student group that petitioned for school to start later. Teachers are noticing, too. Austin Reed, a history teacher at Rock Bridge, says he has seen an improved alertness in his first-hour classes.

No matter how old you are, there are significant benefits to getting enough sleep. Perhaps a peek at this list will convince your boss to start the day an hour later, too.

0415newslambs

COUNT SHEEP, NOT POUNDS

Individuals with poor sleep habits have higher levels of ghrelin, a hunger hormone that increases appetite and lowers levels of leptin, a hunger hormone that decreases appetite. One explanation for America’s obesity epidemic might be related to a chronically sleep-deprived population, Abu Salah says, a sleep specialist at Boone Hospital.

CAN’T BUY ME SLEEP
When you’re sleepy, a $5 venti latte seems like nothing. But your daily Starbucks routine can add up without you even realizing it. Perhaps that’s because overly tired people are more likely to make financially risky decisions and ignore potential losses, a 2011 study from Duke University shows. Sure, online shopping at 2 a.m. sounds great at the time, but finding a $200 hole in your checking account in the morning is not.

WHO NEEDS ADVIL?
Aches and pains are about as fun as being stuck in rush-hour traffic. Lack of sleep decreases your pain tolerance, according to a 2001 study. Another study from 2006 found that sleep deprivation might contribute to the inflammation of chronic or acute pain. Ouch.

0415newsalarmclock

KEEP THE DOCTOR AWAY
Inadequate sleep habits can impair the ability of your immune system to fight infection and colds. According to a 2013 British study, even one more hour per night can keep your immune system healthier and decreases the risk of diabetes and cancer.

GET OVER YOUR GRUMPINESS
After a sleepless night, you might resemble Oscar the Grouch more than you think. Adequate sleep has been linked to improving mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.

In case you need to find more enticing reasons to pencil in a nap this afternoon, other benefits of sleep are an increased sex drive, enhanced memory, clearer skin (beauty sleep isn’t just an urban legend), improved athletic performance, decreased risk of heart attack and lower blood pressure. If you find yourself constantly yawning, it might be time to trade in your double-shot latte for more time under the covers.