[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s widely reported that we are a sleep-deprived society where only about half of the population is getting adequate sleep. This is becoming a significant problem in our communities because sleep deprivation can impact our economy, in addition to our overall health and safety.
The European Society of Cardiology just reported on a study of people that consistently led a healthy lifestyle and who were not smokers, regularly exercised, ate a healthy diet and limited their alcohol consumption. As expected, they had a lower risk of heart disease and even more importantly a lower risk of a fatal event linked to a heart condition.
What made the study even more interesting is they included good sleeping habits and were encouraged when the same risks lowered significantly. Those that included the fifth healthy lifestyle habit of sleep had a 65% lower risk of cardiovascular disease up from 57% and an 83% lower risk of fatal events, up from 67%.
The study concluded that proper sleep is as impactful on our heart health as giving up smoking. So it seems appropriate to say that sleep can indeed save your life. In case there is any doubt, here are three reasons why sleeping in could save your life.
3 Reasons Sleeping In Can Save Your Life:
Sleep Affects Your Ability to Focus
When we continue to deprive ourselves of sleep, it becomes harder to remember things, our thoughts become more muddled, and it takes longer to process information and make decisions.
Think about the burden a delay in processing information and making decisions can have. It can impact everything from driving to operating machinery and even influence more extreme situations like reacting to a fire. These are situations where even a few seconds if inaction can change the outcome.
There are some studies that show driving while tired is as dangerous and driving drunk.
Let that sink in for a minute.
According to the CDC, there are around 6,000 fatalities each year attributed to traffic accidents involving a sleep-deprived driver. That right there is 6,000 reasons when enough sleep could have saved a life.
Sleep Affects Your Mood
We have all experienced a moody morning after a less than good night’s sleep. Well, there are studies to prove what we already know that lack of sleep can make us more irritable, stressed and anxious.
The study also shows that once someone gets adequate sleep again, their mood is significantly improved.
So how does our mood save our life? Well, chronic sleep deprivation can cause or increase depression and depression can lead to poor choices made out of desperation. Those choices can have a huge impact on life.
Depression can also affect our overall health by compromising the immune system and attacking heart health. In fact, depressed people are three times more likely to experience a life-threatening cardiac event than people who are not depressed.
This isn’t to say that all people suffering from sleep-deprivation will become depressed, but it is fair to say that it negatively affects our mood. And our mood affects the decisions we make.
Sleep Affects Your Lifespan
Many experts claim that our brain and our body recover and recharge while we sleep. Of course, we know that our body requires sleep and, in fact, our body prepares for it each day. When we listen to our body and sleep when it tells us to, we are allowing our body to do what it does best, optimize our bodily functions, cardiovascular systems, and hormone levels.
There are approximately 50-70 million Americans that are not getting adequate sleep every night, and it can affect these important functions. When our bodily functions decrease in efficiency, our lifespan shrinks, and it certainly contributes to the quality of life as we get older.
But what is adequate sleep? Well, of course, it differs by the person, and it differs by stage of life. The mistake most of us make is thinking we need less sleep when we are older. The opposite is true. Research shows that elders who sleep nine or more hours a night are more vital, active, and live longer.
Of course, the natural aging process can hinder our sleep because our melatonin levels decrease as we age. There are natural remedies that can help. The important message here is to not assume you don’t need sleep; you do. If you aren’t sleeping, then investigate the reasons.
When we are busy, often the first thing that suffers is our sleep. We often think that sleep is a luxury and that giving up a few hours of this precious commodity will benefit us because we can get more done. Hopefully, this article has proven sleep is not a luxury.
It’s important to stop ignoring how poor sleep impacts our bodies, our mood, and our overall health. It is an important risk factor and should be taken seriously. While this may sound dramatic, it can be a matter of life and death.