Majority of adults face sleeping problems in one form or the other. It is either difficulty in falling asleep or difficulty in staying asleep, or sometimes even waking up at odd hours in the morning and unable to sleep again. Getting in the right amount of sleep makes you feel well-rested the next morning. On the other hand, sleep deprivation has a negative effect on productivity, creativity and thinking. Sleeplessness in any such form affects the body in many ways than we realize.
In our previous article, we covered why the body needs sleep. In addition to consolidating memory and boosting the immune system, getting the right amount of quality sleep improves our cognitive behavior. This article will cover how sleep affects and increases productivity and why getting the right amount of sleep is crucial for being active.
Restorative Power of Sleep
Irregular or inadequate sleep, over a period of time, can cause various physical and mental health problems. We have seen that mental health and sleep go hand in hand. Sleep, in some cases, restores health to the fullest to be able to perform better. However, when the body goes without sleeping for long durations, there is a build-up of a harmful hormone called cortisol.
Cortisol is harmful to the body as it can weaken the immune system. Cortisol also breaks down the skin collagen, a protein used to keep the skin young and neat, instead, it makes you look older than your age. Furthermore, sleep deprivation can also make the body fat as the lack of sleep makes it difficult for the body to metabolize carbohydrates, turning them into fatty muscles. Among men, the increase in cortisol level could also cause a decrease in the testosterone levels.
Sleep Enhances Performance
Studies show that sleep deprivation can make you exhausted 11% faster than people who get adequate and wholesome sleep. Additionally, that lack of sleep over 17+ hours would make the brain work the same way if your blood-alcohol level were 0.5 (approx. two glasses of wine consumed in an hour). And the longer you go without sleep, the same increasing effect as the blood-alcohol level will render you unfit for any physical activity. Chronic sleep deprivation can have this effect in just 5-7 hours of sleeplessness.
When the body is asleep, the brain performs functions that cannot be done when the body is awake. One such is the removal of toxic proteins from the neurons which essentially consolidates memory, removed unwanted information and makes space for taking in more the next day. This function is essential as it enables creative thinking and thereby enhances the performance of the body and the mind. Sleeplessness also results in sudden energy drops through the day. Even emotionally, adequate sleep helps keep emotions in check without being irrational and hasty in our actions.
Napping: Temporary Solution to Sleep Deprivation?
If you have taken all the steps to improve your sleep quality but you still struggle to sleep well, perhaps take smaller naps through the day. Napping for 20-30 minutes can make you more alert without feeling groggy. Most importantly, napping can ensure your body doesn’t burn out completely. Instead, you feed the body regulated amounts to rest to keep the mind fully functional. No wonder, naps are often called power nap as it can truly leave you energetic and powerful! Although, on a longer run, power napping cannot be the permanent solution.