by Dr Mecherl Lim 

MD (MA) Naturopath (ND), Holistic Kinesiology

How a series of sleep loss impacts mental & physical wellbeing
Three consecutive nights of sleep loss can have a negative impact on our mental and physical health and cause both to greatly deteriorate. Sleep deprivation can lead to an increase in anger, frustration, anxiety and a weakened immune system and amongst others.

A new study published in Annals of Behavioural Science looked at the consequences of sleeping fewer than six hours for eight consecutive nights – six hours is the minimum duration of sleep that experts say is necessary to support optimal health in average adults.

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. In a study by the University, the number of mental of physical problems steadily got worse, peaking on day three. At that point, the research showed that the human body has gotten relatively used to repeated sleep loss. But all that 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 back our ‘sleep debt’ on weekends and be more productive during the week. However, results from this study shows that having just one night of sleep loss can significantly impair your daily mental abilities and functioning.

Data provided by the Midlife, included a study of 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 hours than typical routines.

They recorded their mental and physical behaviours in a journal for eight consecutive days, allowing 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 and pain, gastrointestinal problems, and other health concerns.

These negative feelings and symptoms were continuously elevated throughout consecutive sleep loss days and did not return to baseline levels unless they had a night’s sleep of more than six hours.

About one third of adults sleep less than six hours per night. Once that becomes a habit, it’s increasingly difficult for your body to fully recover from lack of sleep, continuing the vicious cycle of worsening daily wellbeing, which could impact one professionally.

A previous study led by author Sommi found losing just 16 minutes of sleep could impact job performance. Her previous findings also showed that minor sleep loss can decrease daily mindfulness, which is a critical recourse for managing stress and maintaining healthy routines.

So, I would advise the best way to maintain a strong daily performance is to set aside more than SIX HOURS of SLEEP NIGHTLY.

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