Sleep and Your Productivity

There are tremendous psychological effects as a result of sleep deprivation, such as:

  • Raising your risk for hypertension (heart attacks and strokes)
  • Type II Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Weight Gain
  • Colds & Flu

However, even if you are free from such maladies, sleep deprivation still has significant consequences for productivity.

Not getting the sleep you need makes you prone to:

  1. Daytime drowsiness – This usually manifests itself as a temporary drop in energy and alertness around mid-afternoon. It’s accompanied by feelings of inattentiveness and grogginess, particularly when doing dull or repetitive tasks. It’s more likely to occur after a heavy meal or low dose of alcohol, or while sitting in a warm room.
  2. Microsleeps – These are brief episodes of sleep that you’re unaware of and that occur during waking hours. Lasting only a few seconds, microsleeps cans produce inattention, resulting in accidents or injuries.
  3. Concentration problems – Since your mental faculties are not alert, sleep loss affects focus.
  4. Mood shifts, including depression & irritability– Mood is one of the first traits to be affected by sleep loss. If you miss even one night of sound rest, and your threshold for anger lowers.
  5. Stress, anxiety, and loss of coping skills – Sleep loss leads to amygdala activation, the area of your brain involved in rage and aggression. There’s also decreased activity in your limbic system, which regulates anxiety. Feelings of not being able to cope, even with simple problems or moderate workloads, can become overwhelming and result in increased worry, frustration, and nervousness. You can lose your perspective and be unable to relax under even moderate pressure. Stress produces sleep loss, and sleep loss produces stress.
  6. Socializing less – In short, you’d rather stay home then go out. It’s not because you’re anti-social; it’s because you’re too tired.
  7. Reduced ability to communicate – Speaking and writing skills deteriorate with sleep loss.
  8. Lower creativity – Lack of sleep severely disrupts many duties of the hippocampus, which means you’ll have less ability to conceptualize.
  9. Impaired motor skills and coordination.

Now you might be wondering…  “how is my brain activity altered when I don’t get enough sleep?”

When you’re sleepy, your brain works in a completely different way than when it’s well rested. In fact, some parts don’t work much at all! FMRI images show that sleep-deprived brains have much less activity in the right hippocampus (your memory center). This means, losing sleep means losing memory –and not just for tomorrow, but for months afterwards! Recent research has shown that when rats are deprived of adequate sleep, certain brain cells actually begin to stop firing due to fatique, despite the rat’s wakeful state. Evidence suggests that the same thing occurs in human brains when we don’t get enough rest.  

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