How consecutive sleep loss impacts our mental, physical well-being

New study suggests it takes only three consecutive nights of sleep loss to cause your health to deteriorate immensely.

Entertainment Desk July 08, 2021

A new study published in Annals of Behavioral Medicine has deduced that all it takes is three consecutive nights of sleep loss to cause your mental and physical wellbeing to deteriorate immensely, reported the Hindustan Times.

Lead author Soomi Lee, assistant professor in the School of Aging Studies at the University of South Florida found the biggest jump in symptoms appeared after just one night of sleep loss while observing the consequences of sleeping lesser than six hours for eight consecutive nights.

This, according to experts is the minimum duration of sleep that is necessary to support optimal health in average adults, and the number of mental and physical problems regressed steadily, peaking on day three. At that point, research revealed the human body got relatively used to repeated sleep loss.

But that all changed on day six when participants reported that the severity of physical symptoms was at its worst. "Many of us think that we can pay our sleep debt on weekends and be more productive on weekdays," Lee said. "However, results from this study show that having just one night of sleep loss can significantly impair your daily functioning."

Data provided by the Midlife in the United States study included nearly 2,000 middle-aged adults who were relatively healthy and well-educated. Among them, 42 percent had at least one night of sleep loss, sleeping one and a half fewer hours than their typical routines. Their mental and physical were recorded in a diary for eight consecutive days. This allowed researchers to review how sleep loss causes wear and tear on the body.

Participants reported a pile-up of angry, nervous, lonely, irritable and frustrated feelings as a result of sleep loss. They also experienced more physical symptoms, such as upper respiratory issues, aches, gastrointestinal problems and other health concerns. These feelings and symptoms worsened as consecutive sleep loss days increased. And they didn't return to baseline levels unless they had a night sleep of more than six hours.

About one-third of US adults sleep less than six hours per night. Lee says that once sleep loss becomes a habit, it's increasingly difficult for one’s body to fully recover, which continues the vicious cycle of worsening daily well-being, impacting one professionally.

A previous study led by Lee deduced that from six hours, losing only 16 minutes of sleep could impact job performance. Her earlier findings also show how minor sleep loss can decrease daily mindfulness, which is a critical resource for managing stress and maintaining healthy routines. According to Lee, the best way to maintain a strong daily performance is to set aside more than six hours to sleep every night.




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