How Sleep Affects Your Health
by B Williams
condition such as thyroid disorders or depression, so check with your doctor if you
are experiencing chronic sleeplessness.
How many hours of sleep do I need?
Some people claim to function optimally with as little three to five hours of sleep.
However, for most people getting seven or eight hours is more optimal for
maintaining good health. Because the number of hours necessary can vary from
person to person, it is best to just pay attention to your own body and the changes
in mood or attention span that may occur when you loose sleep. The loss of one
hour of sleep in a night may produce subtle impairment of your cognitive abilities that
you may not even notice. However, more than one hour of sleep loss in a night may
lead to more noticeable changes such as drowsiness and nodding off. Sleep
deprivation can also be dangerous. People suffering from sleep deprivation perform
poorly when tested for coordination and reaction time. Changes such as these can
lead to accidents and mistakes that may have serious consequences. Under
conditions of sustained sleep deprivation, hallucinations and mood swings may also
Can losing sleep make me sick?
Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the pineal gland at night. Melatonin
makes us feel drowsy and contributes to helping us achieve a restful night's sleep. In
addition to helping us sleep, melatonin is an antioxidant that aids in supporting our
immune system. Sleep deprivation can weaken our immune system making us more
vulnerable to diseases and disorders from the common cold to diabetes. When we
sleep our immune systems are given a chance to replenish and attack any disease
causing bacteria or viruses we may have encountered. The loss of sleep impairs the
body's ability to sustain a properly functioning immune system. Sleep deprivation
additionally leads to stress which weakens our immune system further.
Can a lack of sleep affect my mood?
Although experiencing stress or anxiety can lead to sleepless nights, the opposite is
also true leading to a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break. The human body
uses a chain of chemicals to indicate stress. Quality sleep blocks this chain reaction
effectively preventing the chemicals that produce stress from being made. At least
some studies have also shown that sleep deprivation can even boost the level of
stress hormones the following day. Exhaustion can lead to moodiness of varying
degrees such as crying easily and anger outbursts. Depending on the duration of
sleep loss over time, such mood changes can affect our professional and personal life
making us less able to face the normally occurring challenges of life.
About The Author
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Although most of us have heard we
need eight hours of sleep a night to
maintain good health, we are seldom
reminded that quality of sleep is just
as important as quantity. Poor quality
sleep can lead to poorer performance
at work, accidents, and mood
swings. Health problems also begin to
develop if poor quality sleep persists
for a number of days or weeks.
Understanding what symptoms may
result from restless nights will help
you understand and correct what
might be contributing to mild or
moderate insomnia. Sleepless nights
can sometimes indicate an underlying
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