Why A Good Night’s Rest is Fundamental to Happiness
Many of us claim to love sleep, yet so many of us don’t get enough of it regularly. Whether it’s an excess of work, regular social obligations, surfing the web or that new season on Netflix, there’s just too much going on to grab a full 7 or 8 hours sometimes.
Of course, sleep needs can vary from person to person. But typically, toddlers are supposed to have between 11 and 14 hours, teenagers 9 to 10, and adults between 7 and 9, depending on how active you are.
What most fail to realize, however, is that a good night’s sleep is fundamental to happiness. We’ve all been there, running on 3 or 4 hours sleep and consequently feeling groggy as a result; but, it actually goes much deeper than a short-term feeling of grogginess.
There have been multiple studies into the effects of sleeplessness, with one finding that when we’re sleep-deprived, our risk for depression increases, not to mention our stress levels.
Our emotions are largely controlled by our amygdala, which is what can trigger feelings of stress, anger or fear. The prefrontal cortex, after a decent amount of sleep, can keep the amygdala working correctly, allowing us to emotionally process and respond to situations well. When you don’t get enough sleep, the connection between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex is disrupted, leaving us struggling to process things emotionally.
According to eachnight, sleep is vital in increasing your happiness by allowing your body to function at its very best. When your brain and body are not fully functioning, not only will it affect your immediate happiness, but it can cause a large domino effect in other areas of your life, including your health.
To understand why a lack of sleep can have such a detrimental effect, it helps to understand what happens immediately if you go a long period without sleep.
Over 24 Hours
This is the point that sleep deprivation starts affecting both your brain and body, leaving you clumsy and uncoordinated. Pair this with forgetfulness and imbalanced hormones, causing cortisol (the stress hormone) to be released into your body, raising both your heart rate and blood pressure. When the body has increased levels of cortisol for a long period it causes us to become emotional and irritable, and can cause some pretty serious cardiovascular complications.
Over 48 Hours
At 48 hours without sleep, our bodies try their best to shut down, which is why you may fall asleep involuntarily when inactive. In fact, you can sometimes experience microsleeps, which can last up to 30 seconds even if in the middle of an activity—this is especially dangerous when driving. Aside from that, your body temperature and metabolism will fall and you’ll be more inclined to snack as a way of getting the required energy elsewhere. This can lead to both weight gain and an increased risk of diabetes.
So, next time you consider answering ‘yes’ when Netflix asks “Are you still watching?”, think about the impact of sleep deprivation and whether you want to feel groggy or rested the next day.