How much sleep do you really need? Probably more than you re getting

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152147261 You may want to think about hopping into bed a little earlier tonight. In a column published in The New York Times today, Jane E. Brody discusses the risks associated with not getting enough sleep. She argues that most people actually need seven or eight hours of sleep to function and that sleep deprivation can affect memory, learning, creativity, productivity, emotional stability and physical health.

She points to a variety of studies that have been done associating lack of sleep with detrimental consequences. She discusses studies linking lack of sleep to weight gain due to the fact that not only does lack of sleep mean that an individual has more time to eat and drink but also that lack of sleep is associated with an increase in the hormone ghrelin, an appetite stimulator. She also discusses studies pointing to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes due to lack of sleep. As she digs further into sleep research, she finds studies that show an association between sleep deprivation and increased risk of breast cancer and potentially cancerous colorectal polyps.

And it s not just adults who may be affected by lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation in children was associated with the display of ADHD like symptoms, resulting in incorrect diagnoses of the disorder. And then there s the fact that during sleep, new learning and memory pathways become encoded in the brain, meaning that without adequate sleep, learning, memory and judgment will be compromised. Lastly, lack of sleep not only affects the individual who s not sleeping, but can also be dangerous to others. Sleep-deprived people on the road are just as impaired as those who have been drinking.

As if you really needed an excuse to get some more sleep, but if you did, this should suffice.