What is the first comment from coworkers at the water cooler? “Man, I’m tired. I couldn’t sleep.” And most everyone else nods in agreement. Yes, we’re all tired. Sleep deprivation is as rampant as fat rolls in our United States, yet we assume it’s a price we pay to get ahead. Sure, I’m tired, but I’m getting 6 hours of sleep. That’s enough, right?
While a very small percentage of the population thrives on 6 hours of sleep, if you’re constantly tired, you aren’t in that elite group. You may feel like sleep is a waste of time, or just something old people do, but the fact is getting even an hour less of sleep per night has drastic, long-lasting effects. Sleeping 6 when you need 7 (or probably closer to 8) hours means you’re losing out on an entire night of rest every week. Just what will this “cost” you in the long run?
1. Blood Pressure Medicine
A recent study found that people who get less than adequate sleep are significantly more likely to increase their blood pressure over time. When overtired, the body is put under unusual duress, which also plays into the increased blood pressure. Not only do blood pressure prescriptions cost hundreds each year, but you’ll also be labeled forever as a much higher risk to insurance companies. Add that big, fat scarlet letter to your file and premiums double. Still enjoying late night TV?
2. Higher Life Insurance Premiums
Many life insurers have clued into how sleep affects every facet of life and are charging clients accordingly. Those reporting substandard sleep and sleep problems are more like to incur heftier premiums. Losing weight helps substantially, but you’ll need to get more sleep to lose the weight to improve your sleep. Both go hand in hand can be treated naturally in most cases.
3. Loss of Income
How do we feel after just one night of poor sleep? How about after several consecutive nights, even weeks of frequent waking or insomnia? A recent study by Science Translational Medicine found that sleep deprivation severely impairs cognitive abilities at work, especially for workers with odd hours. As your body tries to cope with fatigue, your mind follows with poor reaction time and decision-making. This extends to your driving to and from work as well as your marriage. Do we need to calculate the cost of a divorce as well?
4. Psychiatry Bills
Shrinks can cost around $250/hour, and they’ll gladly take your money to diagnose you with severe depression or insomnia induced hallucinations. Although sleep is just one of many factors associated with mental disorders, it exacerbates problems by leaps and bounds and can even cure radical behavioral aberrations when regulated properly. This can be clearly seen in manic, sleep deprived children as well.
5. Bigger Grocery Bills
Many overweight people don’t have good sleep. Or is it the other way around? Whichever chicken or egg came first, the body secretes the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates hunger. Since we can’t sleep when we’re starving, let’s head off to the fridge to get satisfied. The result? A 30% obese population. So if you’d prefer to stick with substandard sleep, grab your wallet and load it up at the grocery store.
6. Surgery Costs
The established link between heart disease and lack of sleep is very real. Committing to sleeping enough gives you a 30% chance of reducing clogged arteries. The cost of that surgery: $44,000 as a national average.
If you’re facing this list of ugly possibilities, what should you do? Catch up this Saturday? Much more goes into your sleep “diet” than a quickie sleep indulgence.
- Wind down for an hour before going to bed.
This means no TV. This means no heavy housework or working out. Chocolate and caffeine are out of the question. But I catch up on programs before going to sleep! And it’s been reeking havoc on your sleep quality. Just as you’d give a warm bath, cozy story, and singing to a baby before bedtime, you need a ritual as well. Stick to it every night so your body has adequate time to prepare.
- Make up for sleep deficits over time, not in one day.
So if you’re accustomed to hitting the sack at 11:30 and waking at 6:00, start a super early wind down at 9:00 to go to sleep at 10:00. If you’ve chinched out on sleep for several days or weeks, expect to wake refreshed after the same amount of time going to be early.
- Keep your schedule consistent throughout the weekend.
Sleeping in, whether to catch up or just relax, is detrimental to your body’s natural rhythm. If you don’t believe me, have children. Babies and kids don’t ever sleep in, even when kept awake late into the night. Having a consistent “wake time” is part of how we are designed to function. This means we don’t designate Friday and Saturday nights as free-for-alls every weekend. You’ll feel better throughout the week when you regulate it.
- Don’t read or watch TV in bed.
A rational mind doesn’t often trump biology! Your body will prepare to sleep in bed because that’s what you do in it. Don’t play games with your body by using the bed to watch a movie sometimes, read at other times, or surf on your mobile device. The more you train yourself to sleep and do nothing else (except for frequent marital rendezvous) the faster you’ll be able to fall asleep.
- Make sleep a priority.
Just like your diet and exercise, if you take your rest lightly, you’ll reap what you sew. Simply because our society considers sleep a waste of time doesn’t mean it isn’t a crucial component to the rhythm of life. Sleep is the main time that the body heals and rejuvenates. Give a little now, or pay for it later.
Guest Bio: Ashley writes about fashion and frugal living on Free Shipping.org’s Go Frugal blog. Her recent articles include Top 7 Secrets of Billionaires Who Live Below Their Means, and How to Save Money Shopping Online at Coldwater Creek.