Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Skip Out on Sleep - Mature Health Center

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Jan 21, 2015

Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Skip Out on Sleep

Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Skip Out on Sleep

Sleep is necessary for a healthy lifestyle. It's just as important as exercise, a healthy diet and stress management. We all know a good night's sleep is crucial, but it can be easy to tell ourselves we'll go to bed in a little bit - until it's late at night and there is no chance to have a full night of rest. To counter this tendency, here are some facts you might not know about what a lack of sleep can really do. The consequences of missing sleep go well beyond feeling tired or needing to sleep in on the weekend. They can be serious, and they include:

Sleep deprivation can produce false memories

A recent study published in the journal "Psychological Science" found sleep deprivation is associated with a risk of developing false memories, according to The Guardian. Memory distortion is a problem you may not think about much in your day-to-day life, but it can be anything from an irritation to something quite serious. Manufacturing a memory that you definitely picked up the dry cleaning this morning is not the end of the world, though it expands your to-do list; creating memories of important tasks completed or remembering disturbing instances could have a more serious impact. Previous studies have shown memory manufacturing begins when people get five hours of sleep a night or less.

Losing sleep could mean loss of brain cells

Recent research in the "The Journal of Neuroscience" found mice that were deprived of sleep for a long period of time experienced the death of 25 percent of a certain type of their brain cells. After days of sleep patterns that mirror night shift workers, which meant three days of night shifts with only four to five hours of sleep per 24 hours, mice lost 25 percent of certain brain cells that help keep the brain alert. This loss is permanent.

"We now have evidence that sleep loss can lead to irreversible injury," Professor Sigrid Veasey of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurology told BBC News. "This might be in a simple animal but this suggests to us that we are going to have to look very carefully in humans."

Sleep loss can cause weight gain

If you're working on weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight, you have even more of a reason to never miss out on sleep. According to research, losing sleep can make people eat more and gain weight, possibly because of the physical impact sleep deprivation has on the brain. The New York Times reported depriving people of sleep for just one night changed the way their brains reacted to high-calorie junk foods. They were more motivated to eat by foods like potato chips and sweets, and the activity in their frontal cortexes declined. The frontal cortex governs understanding consequences and making rational decisions. With this increased craving for high-calorie foods and a drop in decision-making and reasoning ability, it's easy to see how sleep deprivation could send you straight to the fridge.