“I’ve been dealing with a lot of stress at work. I should just skip an hour of sleep for a few nights and get this stuff done.”
Raise your hand if you’ve ever done this. I know I have. We’re constantly fed this misinformation that working hard means burning the midnight oil. We’re told that the rewards we reap are going to be worth our pain. To an extent, there is truth to it. Sleeping late or waking up too early once in a blue moon to complete the homework assignment or complete a project for work or get pending chores in the home finished helps. But what if it becomes a habit?
Cutting hours from one’s required amount of sleep is just one of the many ways we deprive ourselves of valuable sleep. When I call sleep valuable, people often roll their eyes; how can periods of inactivity be invaluable? Think about it. When you’ve walked from work to the grocery store and then to your house, doesn’t sit or lie down feel like a million bucks? Your brain is constantly active, even when you’re gazing at a blank wall. Sleep is when it gets to relax. The brain is just as important as one’s legs, if not more.
There are other ways we destroy our quality of rest as well. Mobile phones are the biggest culprits (be assured, I’m not your mom writing this article). Having it lying around when you sleep might not be causing your brain to melt like internet forwards tend to warn you, but they certainly prevent many (if not most) from relaxing. A buzz here, a notification light flashing there, and the constant lure of the internet with its many wonders.
Then, there are things like noise from outside, whether it be sounds of the traffic or a street light that shines right into your window. Uncomfortable beds and mattresses as well as the related back, neck and shoulder ache trouble the tired as well. Collect the huge number of people all these factors affect, and you can see how poor sleep is almost an epidemic.
Poor sleep is ruining us
Experts believe we are in the golden age of sleep. From sleeping in huddles in the jungle to animal hide to the little bedrooms of the Romans and the lavish ebony and gold bed of Tutankhamun, we live in a dream world now where we no longer need to sleep on hay with coals underneath the bed or chamber pots by our feet. We have the best mattresses and bedding, linen and even audio aids to help us sleep. And yet, despite the stress we battle with all the exertions of an average day, we’re still sleeping poorly.
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Turns out, this habit of skipping sleep or putting it lowest in priority has its ill effects that if piled-up can easily outweigh whatever profit you find through it. The many dangers of having low sleep can perhaps never be completely listed since there is nobody part or activity in life where you don’t need your brain to function properly. Here are some adverse effects poor sleep can have on your day at work.
- You wake up tired, get ready and drive to work. Insufficient sleep is likely to make you groggy, irritable and less attentive, all three of which are responsible for a lot of road mishaps throughout the world, be it hit and run cases, road rage or fatal or crippling accidents.
- You get to work, but you can’t perform tasks you could have otherwise carried out in a few minutes or else you are just the opposite of productive. This is because your brain is working at an abjectly low capacity. It has not been rested properly, and it has to fight a lot of metabolites and toxins to get things done.
- You have trouble recollecting what you read through or heard the last day or the day before. Without proper sleep, your brain hasn’t had a proper chance to shift stuff from short term memory to long term memory. It doesn’t help to be a goldfish in a man’s suit in this competitive world.
- Your body language, skin appearance, and area around the eyes all change significantly enough to be noticeable to people around you. It gets passed off as being badly groomed, which isn’t the best idea if you’re trying to bag that overseas business meeting where you represent your branch or company.
- Stress is less bearable to your tired mind. The least bit of stress can now take you into overdrive, and you either blaze through the tasks at hand only to end up realizing you’ve done it all wrong, or you just go mentally numb and nothing gets accomplished. To many, this can cost them their jobs.
- That’s not all. Poor sleep ups the risk of heart disease and stroke, which can rob you not just of work and salary, but also your savings.
Working in such a mentally disadvantaged state can be detrimental to not just your health but also your performance and image at the workplace. Those who operate heavy machinery, sharp tools or other hazardous material could be risking their lives as well as the lives of those around when they work in a state of sleep deprivation or continuous sleeping at work. Lack of sleep has also been associated with debilitating mental illnesses such as depression, personality disorders as well as an anxiety disorder. These are all long term consequences one must endure that all emanate from lack of sleep.
How much sleep should you get?
While there is no strict need to sleep 8 hours by the clock each night, and given that each individual’s sleep needs vary, a rule of thumb is to ask if you’re waking up tired, or are pushing through a feeling of perpetual fatigue. If you are, you are probably sleep-deprived, and you need to make changes. Keeping electronics in a different room helps. Get a good mattress that helps you sleep. Get good blinds, plugin earphones and turn on white noise, if necessary. Sleep is crucial. The bare minimum when you can’t sneak in enough rest at night is to meditate.
There’s nothing you don’t need your brain to do. So keeping it prepared to take on the day comes before anything else you might have plans for.