How often do we do things that we know aren’t good for us? Usually, society is there to guilt you about your poor choices. Whether it’s lack of exercise, poor eating habits, or questionable recreational activities, there’s typically someone there to do some finger wagging.
However, there’s one vice that doesn’t just go unfrowned upon, it’s actually celebrated. That vice is under sleeping.
There are lots of reasons people don’t have a problem under sleeping. It’s often a sign of dedication to something else. It doesn’t seem as bad compared to other things. People will talk about pulling all-nighters with a twinge of pride.
I’ve got some bad news for you. You’re wrecking your body and you’re costing yourself (and everyone else) money.
Why We Need Sleep
Everyone knows at least at a conceptual level that sleep is an important part of optimum health. What most people don’t know is why a certain amount of sleep matters so much.
The suggested eight hours is not just an arbitrary number that seems like enough time to recharge. It actually accounts for the optimal amount of times your body needs to go through the sleep cycle to perform all of the necessary bodily maintenance.
The sleep cycle consists of five steps, all taking from five to ten minutes, for a total of around 90 to 110 minutes per cycle. The first four stages take you incrementally from light sleep to deep sleep. The last stage is REM (Rapid Eye Movement), that’s when you dream the most vividly.
It is during the sleep cycle that your muscles relax and your body enters a period of enhanced cellular growth. For children, this is when they actually grow. For adults, this is when the most profound healing takes place.
For adults, it’s recommended that you go through the sleep cycle four to five times a night, which ends up equaling six to seven hours. Any less and your body doesn’t have the time to heal itself from even regular daily wear and tear. Over time, that wear and tear builds up and can affect you as much mentally as it does physically.
How It Affects Your Money
Not sleeping may allow you to do more, but it causes the quality of everything you do to suffer. And let’s be honest, most people aren’t staying up working. Most people are either watching Netflix or some other entertaining (if ultimately frivolous) time suck. After all, the light emitted from our digital devices literally keeps us awake.
It’s not just making you less productive, it’s slowly killing you. It’s a combination of those two factors that have led a study to find that the U.S. is collectively losing $411 billion from sleep deprivation. That’s 2.28% of our GDP (Gross Domestic Product)!
That means that getting a good night’s sleep is not just a benefit to you, it’s your civic duty as a citizen. Don’t get too excited though. Getting too much sleep leads to many of the same problems as getting too little. Do your country a solid and keep it to eight hours.