The most driven among us are often unwilling to commit a full third of our day to sleep, instead opting to squeeze in an extra two hours of daily tasks. Many consider six hours to be enough, but it really is not. Six hours is not enough time to allow your body to heal itself, resulting in a hungrier, less present, and more moody self.
Some deal in the concept of sleep debt, where you make up for the lack of sleep during the week by making it up on the weekends. However, this common occurrence often results in being more tired and less motivated to get things done on the weekend, even if they are recreational. Researchers have discovered that you can’t fully recover from more than 20 hours of sleep debt. A cycle of daily 6 hour sleeps would mean 14 hours of debt per week, passing the 20 hour mark in less than two weeks.
There really is no way around the ideal 8 hours of sleep. To make those working hours count more, treat your down time with proper respect and attention. Let your productive time be more focused and less distracted, so that you’re not only half-present mentally and emotionally. Less than 1% of the population has the genetic variant that allows them to get by on a short amount of sleep. The rest of us, despite what some may protest, need a third of our day for rest.
If your weekends are times of outdoor recreation, improper sleep will prevent your muscles from growing as much as they should. You’re also at a higher risk of injury when less rested, and likelier to suffer from chronic inflammation.
Men can suffer from a reduced sperm count and lower levels of testosterone. Women can have disrupted menstrual cycles. There are additional consequences of less attractive and healthy facial appearances.
The sleep deprived have stronger appetites due to the increase in the ghrelin hormone, which is associated with hunger. The hormone leptin, associated with feeling satiated, accordingly decreases. This makes you more likely to reach for sugary foods, even though your sleep deprived body can’t process the food as well, leading to higher blood sugar. This is why lack of sleep is associated with weight gain and obesity.
Finally, those who sleep 6 hours or less are four times more likely to catch a cold than those who sleep over 7 hours a night.