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Feelings sluggish? Irritable? Maybe even a little forgetful? It may be due to a lack of sleep.

If you’ve ever spent a night struggling to catch some shut-eye, then you know the next day you are feeling anything but your best. But if you’re missing out on the 7-9 hours of recommended sleep consistently, then there’s a good chance you’re sleep deprived which can lead to health consequences both long and short term.

What happens if you don’t sleep?

Besides feeling like a complete zombie, sleep deprivation can have a variety of negative effects on the mind and body.

In 1965, high school student Randy Gardner, took part in an experiment where he stayed awake for 264 hours (11 days)! During this time, he experienced incoordination, trouble with short-term memory, and even paranoia.

Some of the short-term effects of sleep deprivation can include: lack of vigor, drowsiness that can increase the likelihood of car accidents, and lack of alertness which affects your ability to concentrate and remember and process information.

The long-term effects of chronic sleep deprivation are also very real. Among the most serious problems that can arise are: diabetes, heart failure, stroke, high blood pressure, and obesity. It can also worsen pre-existing mood disturbances such as anxiety, depression, and anger.

Lack of sleep may also cause imbalances in hormone activity which can affect growth and cell-repair throughout the body. In addition to this, your metabolism can also be affected due to loss of sleep altering the hormones involved in regulating metabolism.

And for those looking to age gracefully, they don’t call it getting your “beauty sleep” for nothing! After a while, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to dark circles under the eyes, premature wrinkling, and an increase of the stress hormone cortisol in the body which can break down collagen-the protein that keeps skin smooth and looking young!

So How Much Sleep Do You Actually Need?

Sleep not only allows you to wake up feeling refreshed in the mornings, but it’s absolutely essential in order for our bodies to perform at their full potential.

A minimum of 7 hours is a good place to start to improve your health, but thanks to a report from the National Sleep Foundation, we now have sleep recommendations based on the age group.

  • Newborns, 0-3 months: 14-17 hours
  • Infants, 4-11 months: 12-15 hours
  • Toddlers, 1-2 years: 11-14 hours
  • Preschool children, 3-5 years: 10-13 hours
  • School-age children, 6-13 years: 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers, 14-17 years: 8-10 hours
  • Young adults, 18-25 years: 7-9 hours
  • Adults, 26-64 years: 7-9 hours
  • Older adults, 65+ years: 7-8 hours

Why It’s Important You Make Time For Sleep

It’s crazy to think that some of us actually have to make getting good, quality sleep a priority, but that is the reality for many Americans. According to the CDC, 35% of adults don’t get enough sleep. From work to family and personal responsibilities, sleep can oftentimes be put on the back burner but recognizing the importance of rest and sleep can help to make a huge difference.

Sleep statistics provided by Sleep Advisor show just how important sleep is. Reported by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, almost 20% of all car crash accidents and injuries are associated with sleepiness. The Harvard School of Public Health reports that 3-5% of obesity in adults could be caused by lack of sleep while Medscape states that 37.9% of people reported unintentionally falling asleep during the day.

To ensure you get the sleep your body needs, it’s important you find what helps you catch some shut-eye. From using all-natural sleep aids to sleep apps or even just finding the perfect mattress, there are plenty of things you can do to get enough sleep.

For more ways on how to get your 7-8 hours of solid sleep each night, check out these 6 Steps For A Better Night Time Routine.