The Impact of Sleep on Wellness, Happiness and Health: An Expert's Perspective

Sleep deprivation can have a significant impact on physical and mental wellbeing. Learn how lack of sleep affects overall health and wellness from an expert's perspective.

The Impact of Sleep on Wellness, Happiness and Health: An Expert's Perspective

When you don't get enough sleep, you feel tired, have a hard time concentrating and remembering things, and you may be in a bad mood. Sleep deprivation can have a significant impact on your physical and mental wellbeing, affecting your judgment, coordination, and mood. Your body has an internal clock that helps you to sleep naturally at night and stay alert during the day. Getting enough restful sleep is essential for your overall health and wellness.

It gives you more energy, improves your mood, and even boosts your libido. For men, it is also related to the ability to achieve and maintain an erection. Poor sleep can lower growth hormone and testosterone levels in men, two key factors in male “performance”. When asked about their levels of happiness, people often cite having slept well as the most important factor.

If you are having difficulty sleeping or feeling depressed, anxious, or emotionally unresponsive, there are treatments that can help. Laboratory experiments have shown that not getting enough sleep can dramatically affect memory and concentration, while increasing stress hormones and disrupting the normal metabolism. Humans are designed to sleep at night, despite what night owls might claim. Research has shown that even when people get enough sleep but do so later at night, it can still have a negative effect on their wellbeing.

Sleep is the downtime that your brain needs to consolidate memories, process emotions, and recharge so that you can focus clearly the next day. Studies have shown that two weeks of limited sleep (about four hours a night) can generate brain deficits as severe as those seen in people who haven't slept at all for three nights. Outside of the laboratory, lack of sleep has been linked to an increased risk of car accidents and illnesses. One woman found that when she got her children into a consistent sleep schedule, she herself began to sleep an average of seven to eight hours a night and her mood improved significantly.

Misconceptions about how much you actually sleep can worsen symptoms of depression. Understanding this can help you prioritize good sleep during the winter months when it is most needed. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that subjects who slept just 4.5 hours a night for a week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad and mentally exhausted. The dose-response relationship between sleep duration and human psychomotor vigilance and subjective alertness has been studied extensively.

It has been found that not getting enough sleep increases the risk of chronic pain from conditions such as back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and neuropathy. Consistently not getting enough rest is like constantly spending more money than you earn.