Work Now, Rest Later: The Scary Way Lack of Sleep Impacts Our HealthJessica Cohen
That is the way life has been for me lately. Having found that I work better and more efficiently before the sun comes up, I have been waking up earlier and earlier to get work done. The worker bee in me thinks this is a terrific plan. The cranky zombie is not so sure that she agrees.
Yesterday morning when I awoke there was a frightening figure standing in the bathroom. When I looked closer I noticed that the frightening figure was me. This lack of sleep sure has taken its toll. Dark circles have set up shop under my eyes and my skin is a wreck.
When I sat down to check the news, a report about fragmented sleep caught my eye. For a moment I wondered whether this is some weird cookie thing where my computer somehow knows my secret so it is sending me articles on getting more sleep. Or did it awaken during the night to the sound of my husband snoring too?
The article said that poor-quality and fragmented sleep patterns can speed up cancer growth. Well, isn’t that just fabulous? A lack of enough quality sleep can increase a tumor’s aggressiveness and prevent the immune system from being able to possibly fight off early signs of cancer. So now I am determined to get more sleep.
This is not great news for those of us with early alarm clocks or snoring husbands, nor is it for the 70 million Americans who suffer from chronic sleep conditions. People who are sleep deprived are at an increased risk of chronic disease, more accidents, more errors at work, and poor decision-making.
Yet if you have ever slept in a hospital room and been woken up throughout the night by nurses, you now have another reason to let them know they should consider waiting until morning to get another read on your blood pressure levels. You’re welcome.
As for that frightening creature in the bathroom mirror? Unfortunately she really was there. When we are tired, it is written all over our faces for all the world to see. Research shows that people who are sleep deprived are perceived as less healthy, less attractive, and not surprisingly, more tired. Sleep deprivation can be detected on a person’s face, and it changes the way others judge our health and attractiveness. So apparently I am not fooling anyone. Those dark circles under my eyes are not a strong fashion statement after all. They aren’t screaming “worker bee” to anyone. Instead they are a cry for help, or at the very least, sleep.
Come to think of it, maybe the rising trend in zombie entertainment comes from the sleep deprived. It is like we are looking in the mirror.
So can we all agree that we need to get more sleep so we can look less like the zombie generation, and more importantly, help our bodies fight off disease?
I’ll start. Off to get some Zzzz’s.
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