Sleep Impacts Physical and Mental Well-Being

A recent study studied the results and issues of sleeping fewer than 6 hours for 8 nights in a row, which is the minimum amount of sleep experts agree is necessary for the ability to support optimal health in the average adult group of people. It only takes three nights in a row of sleep loss to cause physical and mental well being to deteriorate in a big way.

The largest jump in well-being symptoms occurred after just one night of loss of sleep. The number of physical and mental problems then got steadily worse and peaked on the third day. At this point, the research indicates the human body was relatively used to repeats of loss of sleep. However, changes occurred on day 6 when the participants in the study reported that their physical symptoms were severe and at their worse.

Many people believe that we catch up on sleep debt on the weekends and thus become more productive during the weekdays. However, the study results show that just one night of loss of sleep can significantly impair daily functions.

Data which was provided by the Midlife of the United States study included almost 2,000 middle-aged adults who were well educated and relatively healthy. 42% had at least one night of loss of sleep, sleeping 1-1/2 fewer hours than what their typical routine is. Physical and mental behaviors were recorded in a diary for 8 consecutive days which allowed the research team to review how loss of sleep causes tear and wear on the body.

The participants reported a large degree of nervous, angry irritable, lonely and frustrated feelings due to the loss of sleep. They also reported more physical symptoms such as aches, upper respiratory issues, gastrointestinal problems and a variety of other health issues. The negative symptoms and feelings continuously increased throughout all consecutive loss of sleep days. They didn’t return to baseline levels until they experienced a night’s sleep of more than six hours.

Approximately 1/3 of U.S. adults get less than 6 hours of the recommended sleep per night which can become a habit. This makes it increasingly difficult for the body to recover fully from the lack of sleep which continues the vicious cycle of worsening well-being on a daily basis and can impact a person on a professional level.

An earlier study found that losing just 16 minutes of sleep could impact performance on the job. Previous findings also indicated that minor loss of sleep could decrease daily mindfulness which can be a critical recourse for maintaining healthy routines and managing stress.

The best way to maintain strong performance on a daily basis is to set aside at least 6 hours of sleep per night.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Naturally Occurring Consecutive Sleep Loss and Day-to-Day Trajectories of Affective and Physical Well-Being