Why Skipping Sleep is Bad for You

Read a fantastic article (Sleep Deprivation is Killing You and Your Career) about the importance of sleep for top performance and the optimization of your health. I was glad to see that many of the behaviors I'm changing in 2015 are in line with the recommendations in this article.

Here are a few things that stood out to me as I read.

According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at the Harvard Medical School, the short-term productivity gains from skipping sleep to work are quickly washed away by the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on your mood, ability to focus, and access to higher-level brain functions for days to come.

When you sleep less you eat more and have more difficulty burning the calories you consume. Sleep deprivation makes you hungrier by increasing the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin and makes it harder for you to get full by reducing levels of the satiety-inducing hormone leptin. (
Plus you're more tempted to eat junky, nutrient poor foods when you're up late snacking.)

Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that interferes with sleep by increasing adrenaline production and blocking sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain. Caffeine has a 6-hour half-life, which means it takes a full 24 hours to work its way out of your system. Have a cup of joe at 8 a.m., and you’ll still have 25% of the caffeine in your body at 8 p.m. Anything you drink after noon will still be near 50% strength at bedtime

Remember, the sleep cycle is a daylong process for your brain. When you confuse your brain by exposing it in the evening to what it thinks is a.m. sunlight (i.e. laptops, cell phones, tablets, TVs), this derails the entire process with effects that linger long after you power down.

Waking up at the same time every day improves your mood and sleep quality by regulating your circadian rhythm.

When you don’t wake up at the same time every day, your brain doesn't know when to complete the sleep process and when it should prepare you to be awake.

Sleeping in on the weekend is a counterproductive way to catch up on your sleep. It messes with your circadian rhythm by giving you an inconsistent wake-up time.

I blogged recently about how much my attitude towards sleep is changing. For the last couple weeks I have been consistently going to bed early, powering down electronic screens about an hour before bed, avoiding the snooze button so I can wake up at the same time each day, and striving for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Things have been going well. I feel more rested, less stressed, more mentally focused, and healthier.