All to ofter we wear the ‘all-nighter’ as a badge of pride to our ability to work hard. Sure they’re needed from time to time, but any more than once or twice a year means you’ve got other issues. Lack of sleep isn’t a badge of honor, it’s something to be reviled since it harms us and how we think.
Next time you’re thinking about a night without sleep or with less sleep than needed remember these reasons why sleep is good for you and lack of sleep is going to harm your long term success.
1. Sleep consolidates memories
We all spend most of our day building new memories. From interactions with friends to new ways to accomplish our jobs to some random revolutionary thought we had while walking the dog. A day is full of memories and learning.
The thing is that when we get the sleep we need after that day of learning our mind takes all those new memories and consolidates them for long term retention. Without proper sleep we simply won’t retain the things we’ve learned well.
Lack of sleep even transfers to the day after. Research suggests that even a single night of missed sleep inhibits our ability to build new memories. We simply can’t make new memories effectively which inhibits our ability to effectively learn. With much of our world changing so fast all the time no one can afford to have their ability to learn impaired and that’s exactly what you’re doing if you aren’t getting the sleep you need.
2. Lack of sleep may lead to Alzheimer’s
Even more alarming than simply having a hard time creating new memories and inhibited learning is that lack of sleep has been shown to have Alzheimer’s like symptoms. Even a sleep schedule change like jet-lag has been shown to have this effect.
That means not only is our learning impaired but when we aren’t getting good sleep we’re actually more likely to forget things we’ve already learned. This is especially concerning for those that have a family history of the disease already since lack of sleep has been shown to accelerate the effect of Alzheimer’s.
If you find you’re forgetting names, places, events or skills that you previously learned check out your sleep schedule. It could be that the lack of consistent good rest is causing you to unlearn those things you already know.
3. It’s as bad as eating poorly for 6 months
It’s not just your memory that’s affected by poor sleep though, your health is put at risk by as little as a single night of poor sleep.
One study has shown that one night of no sleep is as bad for your health as a poor diet for 6 months. In particular the night of missed sleep impairs your insulin sensitivity. This impaired sensitivity means your body needs to produce more insulin to keep your blood sugar regulated. Elevated blood sugar is a predictor of Type 2 Diabetes and obesity.
Yes, lack of sleep can help you gain weight as this lack of insulin sensitivity is often tied to increased appetite. Increasing appetite leads to weight gain and obese people take more time off work. Taking more time off work is going to impair your success at work and all of this is because of a single night of missed sleep.
Working all hours is not a badge of pride we should be wearing. It’s not a sign of success or dedication. Lack of sleep is going to harm our ability to learn. Our ability to recall things we have already learned and can lead to obesity which will mean less time at work and less work done.
If you want to be successful it’s time to start prioritizing sleep. Set an alarm for your bedtime and go to bed. Get a full 8 hours a night. Doing this will increase your ability to learn and your health.
Featured photo credit: luisachesi via flickr.com