Feeling like there just aren’t enough hours in the day for…life…is a pretty common stressor. In the western world, we wake up at the last possible minute, work for eight to ten hours through the day, then come home and wrap up whatever other responsibilities we may have before it gets so dangerously late that staying up any longer will inevitably leave you feeling like a zombie the next morning. If we’re lucky, we inch somewhere near the recommended eight hours of sleep on a given night. Perhaps the most maddening of it all, though, are the nights when we wake up every few hours simply because our body won’t let us get a full night of rest. Some people try to make up for getting little sleep or a night of interrupted sleep with another hour here and an hour there of shut-eye. Moreover, when the weekend comes, it’s not uncommon to be sucked into the habit of sleeping 12 hours a night in an effort to catch up and have a fresh start come Monday morning.
The truth is, sleep doesn’t work like a bank account. You can make deposits to be taken out at your discretion later on, whether it’s day-by-day or throughout the week. In fact, interrupted sleep is actually worse than only getting a couple hours through the night.
It Affects Your Mood
This one’s obvious and we can all relate. In fact, waking in the middle of the night is actually a symptom of depression. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that not getting sleep heightens depression as well. Get a single poor night of sleep and you’ll quickly relate to how much your mood is impacted.
You’re Not Very Sharp
Think of a time you drove late at night while tired. Your reaction time and alertness were inevitably impaired. In fact, there are studies that show sleep deprivation can impair driving ability as heavily as alcohol.
Attention span and cognitive abilities are impaired just as heavily by interrupted sleep as getting very little sleep at all.
Your Memory Is Also Pretty Poor
Studies have shown that interrupted sleep makes it much harder to remember things as well as retain new information. The brain actually requires a continuous stretch of sleep for the things you learned and experienced the previous day to be retained.
Your Longterm Brain Health Is at Risk
Technically, your brain is still hard at work while you’re sleeping. While it’s simultaneously resting, it’s also busy clearing out proteins that aren’t meant to be left in your brain. Interrupted sleep doesn’t allow your brain to clean out or flush out those Amyloid proteins, letting them build up over time instead. The danger to this is actually pretty scary, as Amyloid proteins are linked to developing Alzheimer’s disease.
So with that said, you now have a solid case for developing a healthy sleep routine with habits like implementing a consistent bedtime that will allow you to sleep as comfortably through the night as possible with as few interruptions as possible.