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Conventional wisdom says that the average adult should aim to get about eight hours of sleep each night. Children need significantly more sleep time while older adults may manage with less. Before the invention of effective artificial lighting, the cycle of night and day regulated sleeping patterns. People worked during the daylight hours and when night fell they went to bed. The poor light cast by candles and oil lamps did not encourage them to stay up. Today electric light effectively obscures the difference between night and day. Work, social life, computers, and many other factors tempt us to cut down on much-needed sleep. Cutting out on too much sleep results in sleep deprivation.

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Your body really needs that sleep

The fact that you become tired and need to sleep at times proves that this is vital to the body's functioning. Just as you need to eat and drink a certain amount and exercise to stay healthy the same applies to sleep. The optimum sleep time varies between individuals, but if an average person gets less than six hours of solid sleep each night, they are sleep deprived. Your body needs this rest to recoup energy expended during the day. A serious lack of sleep weakens the immune system to increase the likelihood of infection.

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Lack of sleep leads to accidents

You often read in the news about fatal traffic accidents that occur because a driver fell asleep at the wheel. It is irresponsible to drive when you are too tired to react with the speed that fast moving traffic demands. It is just as foolish and immoral as driving under the influence of drink. The road is far from the only place where sleep deprivation often causes accidents. Someone who works on a machine in a factory, in the construction industry and many other working environments needs to be fully alert. If they become dozy at they can easily make mistakes and injure themselves and colleagues.

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Damage to human relationships

Lack of sufficient sleep makes a person grumpy and irritable. It is easy to say or do things you later regret if overtiredness prevents you from thinking before speaking or acting. Consider how many business and social relationships disintegrate because one party says or does something without sufficient forethought. A good night's sleep ensures that you are much better equipped to respond well to the challenges that invariably come up in human dealings.

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Increased danger of developing diabetes

While genetic and diet factors are key determinants of whether or not an individual is prone to develop diabetes, lack of sleep also plays a role. According to some studies, getting sufficient sleep helps the body process glucose. If you usually sleep less than five hours per night, your body is unable to effectively perform this function and risks of developing type 2 diabetes increases.

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More likely to put on weight

So many people look for ways to lose weight. They take on strict diets, enroll in gyms, and extreme cases even undergo operations. There could be an easier way to keep weight down that few seem to know about. Some recent research suggests that those who sleep less than seven hours per night are more likely to put on weight than people who sleep longer. This relative lack of sleep is apparently sufficient to increase their appetite and make them less likely to feel satisfied with their normal food intake.

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Could increase the risk of heart disease

Heart disease is one of the main killers in western countries. The connections to diet and lifestyle are well- publicized, but lack of sleep can also push up heart disease risks. A healthy heart requires you to get sufficient regular sleep. Cutting down on necessary sleep hours increases blood pressure, and makes the body more exposed to inflammation. The consequent increase in strains on the heart could do lasting damage.

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Deterioration in skin quality

Anyone who cares about their complexion (and who does not want to have healthy skin?) should know that lack of sleep affects skin quality. The body utilizes sleeping time to produce hormones that repair damaged tissues. If you cut down too much on the amount of time you sleep, you deprive the body of these self-repair opportunities. This prevents the thickening of the skin and strengthening bone structure.

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Makes it Harder to Have Children

Fertility problems are nothing new, but the introduction of new medical techniques offers new hopes to couples in this sad situation. However, few appreciate that lack of sleep might also be a factor preventing conception. Sleep deprivation reduces both male and female fertility because it lowers the amount of reproductive hormones the body produces. If there are no preexisting genetic or health problems that make it hard to conceive, it is worth trying to see if an extra hour's sleep could make a vital difference. Hopefully, this advice could save some couples having to go through painful and expensive medical procedures.

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Impairing memory

As people get older, their memory might naturally weaken. Sometimes they find it easier to remember events that happened years ago when compared to where they put the car keys! Yet research shows that that lack of sleep also damages memory. Recent research carried out in the USA, and France shows that the body uses sleep time to transfer information to the brain. Therefore, if you cut down on sleep, you deprive the body of these opportunities to boost memory functioning.

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The better you sleep, the longer you live

One of the most startling items of information on the links between sufficient sleep and health comes from research done in the UK in 2007. A study called Whitehall 2 examined the sleeping habits of over 10,000 British government employees. The researchers found that those employees who slept the least doubled their risks of death. This frightening statistic should lead everyone who regularly deprives themselves of necessary sleep to seriously consider the risks they take.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.