The Experts say we need at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
But why when I can function on 5 or 6? This is a very good question and one I’ve asked many times.
Although you can and have functioned on less sleep than the experts say it is not always wise. Allow me to explain by telling you my personal story.
I ‘m one of these people that when motivated, can accomplish a lot on very little sleep and adrenaline. I’ve functioned this way for many years and in large blocks of time. Because this was my norm, I hardly noticed the signs that the lack of sleep was causing.
My schedule consisted of:
- Waking up at 5 am to do my miracle morning,
- teach school,
- write my book (or books),
- coaching calls or calls with my SEO,
- outside chores,
- homework, blog, and newspaper writing,
- work out at midnight until 1 or 1:30 am
- and then bed.
- Repeat the next day.
My weekend schedule was different because I didn’t teach, and I caught up on household chores, outside chores, and anything else I couldn’t get finished during the week.
I was motivated, and I had a plan. To say I didn’t enjoy my schedule would be a lie. There were times when I felt overwhelmed, but for the most part, I really enjoyed what I was doing.
After a while,
Did I listen to the signs and change? No, that would be smart. Instead, I kept pushing myself because I had big goals and I was bound and determined to make them happen. At least you couldn’t say I was lazy.
Fast forward a little to when I started developing symptoms that weren’t normal for my body. This was when I started paying attention. Symptoms included, tired to the point where I was functioning like a zombie, I would get the chills, and I was losing weight.
Note: There were other symptoms, but for privacy sake, I will leave those out.
Now I’ve never had a problem with weight gain, (thank you genetics), but I’ve also never had a problem where I’ve dropped weight without trying. What was going on?
I credited it to stress as things happened in my life around this time that could have significantly affected my body. Well, I was partially right. You know when they say, “stress kills?” Well, they’re right. Stress affects everyone at some point in their lives.
Here is one survey in one area that was done indicating how people suffer from stress:
The percentage of Americans who say the future of the nation is a significant source of stress. That’s higher than the percentage who are stressed about money (62 percent), work (61 percent), or violence and crime (51 percent).
The percentage of Americans who say health care is a national issue that causes them stress.
Other commonly cited stressors include the economy (35 percent), trust in government (32 percent), hate crimes (31 percent), crime (31 percent), wars/conflict with other countries (30 percent), terrorist attacks in the United States (30 percent), high taxes (28 percent), Social Security (26 percent), government controversies/scandals (25 percent), and unemployment and low wages (22 percent).apa.org
The percentage of Americans who say the state of the nation has prompted them to volunteer or otherwise support causes they value.
3 out of 4
The share of Americans who report experiencing at least one stress symptom in the last month. 45 percent report lying awake at night, 36 percent report feeling nervous or anxious, 35 percent report irritability or anger, and 34 percent report fatigue due to stress.
Effects of Stress
Our bodies can handle stress but in small doses. When stress becomes long-term or chronic, it messes up our body and produces serious side effects such as:
- Problems with your respiratory system,
- cardiovascular system,
- nervous system,
- male and female reproductive system,
- gastrointestinal system,
- musculoskeletal system,
- and the endocrine system.
That’s no joke. These are major players in your body that can cause major damage when they are stressed out.
So how does stress tie in with sleep? Stress and Sleep, the double S. Well, in my case, lack of sleep combined with stress was the reason for my side effects. By themselves, my body could have battled it out, but when combined; it was not a happy ending to my story.
Some might say you burnt yourself out. I can’t deny that wasn’t the end result but not in the way you’re thinking. I enjoyed what I was doing, so I did not burn myself out mentally. No, by not letting my body get the recommended amount of sleep needed then crashing, combined with a little stress, I burnt my out physically.
End result I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Although this was the diagnosis, it goes a little deeper than that. (More on that later.)
Since that time, I realized my body could indeed break and I needed to take better care of it and not just by eating healthy foods.Tweet
Sleep is HUGE to keep your body on track, giving you the time to recover where stress or other traumatic instances come into play. Sleep also allows your brain to function at its best and will, in the end, yield better results when dealing with work, family, writing a book, and more.
Yes, at first you may feel like you’re not getting enough done, but over time you will see that you accomplish more.
When your brain can function at full steam it takes less time to accomplish a task. I promise you, this is proven.
If I could’ve gone back, I would have chosen to 1. Not change any of my goals, but 2. given my body and brain a fresh perspective by getting a little more sleep.
This last statement brings us back to the beginning question of, “Should you get 7 to 8 hours of sleep?” The answer is yes, you absolutely should!