Emotional Neglect In Childhood Predicts Higher Levels Of Insomnia In Young Adults

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New research has found a link between childhood emotional neglect and insomnia. The findings appear in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry.

Previous research has found a strong link between childhood maltreatment and depression. “Importantly, sleep disturbance may be one critical mechanism through which individuals exposed to maltreatment are vulnerable for recurrent depressive episodes. Indeed, sleep complaints are among the most common residual symptoms of depression,” the authors of the study explained.

The researchers surveyed 102 young adults with a history of clinical or subclinical depression regarding childhood trauma, recent life stressors, and anxiety symptoms. The participants also completed a daily measure of depressive symptoms and kept a sleep diary for 2 weeks.

They found that young adults who experienced more childhood emotional neglect reported more difficulty falling and staying asleep, even after controlling for factors such as daily depressive symptoms, recent stress, anxiety, other forms of childhood maltreatment, and several demographic factors.

In other words, participants who did not feel loved or looked out for by their family as children tended to report higher levels of insomnia symptoms.

“Thus, our results highlight a distinct relationship between emotional neglect during childhood and difficulties initiating and/or maintaining sleep as young adults, which is important given that emotional neglect is one of the most prevalent forms of maltreatment,” the researchers said.

Emotional neglect may contribute to insomnia symptoms by depriving individuals of sense of safety, leading to heightened psychophysiological arousal, they explained.

Emotional neglect, however, did not predict sleep duration. But this could be due to the fact that the researchers relied on the participants to keep track of when they went to bed and woke up in the morning, rather than more objective measures of sleep like a wrist-worn actigraph that monitors physical activity.

“Our measure captured time in bed, which may not be the most accurate representation of time spent asleep,” the wrote.

The study, “Childhood Trauma and Sleep Among Young Adults With a History of Depression: A Daily Diary Study“, was authored by Jessica L. Hamilton, Ryan C. Brindle, Lauren B. Alloy, and Richard T. Liu.

Not Getting Enough Sleep? It Can Damage Your DNA, Study Says

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Not Getting Enough Sleep? It Can Damage Your DNA, Study Says

BY GQ PAN

February 19, 2019 Updated: February 20, 2019

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Getting too little sleep can sometimes feel like torture. It can also lead to more serious health consequences than one can imagine. According to a recent study published in the journal Anaesthesia, sleep deprivation can affect our genes and even damage our DNA, something that can lead to cancer.

The Case of Night Shift Doctors

In the study, a team of researchers from University of Hong Kong looked at 49 healthy full-time doctors, 24 of whom had to work overnight onsite shifts, which meant they were required to work from late afternoon until the next morning.

The study set out to examine the effects of acute sleep deprivation on DNA damage.

hospital doctor
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After three night shifts for the on-call group and three days of adequate sleep for the control group, blood samples were taken from all participants. Upon analyzing the blood samples of the participants, the researchers found that the on-call doctors had lower DNA repair gene expression and more DNA breaks than those who didn’t take night shifts. To put it simply, their DNA was more damaged.

However, more research is needed to determine the significance of DNA damage in the relationship between sleep deprivation and disease, as the study’s sample size was small.

(Qimono/Pixbay)

The team also noted that many other factors could explain why shift workers seem to have a greater predisposition to suffering from chronic illnesses. These range from changes to activity and eating patterns to disruption to the body’s circadian rhythms and sex hormone balances.

The researchers pointed out that a discrepancy that may have affected the study’s results, since their night shift participants were younger than their control group, as junior doctors are more likely to work the night shift than their senior counterparts. In addition, all of the participants were Chinese, so the findings might not apply to a wider population.

DNA Damage: How Bad Can it Be?

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DNA damage has been associated with numerous serious health issues, ranging from heart attacks and diabetes to certain types of cancer. In their paper, researchers stated that a meta-analysis of 2 million participants confirmed a link between working night shifts and incidence of breast tumors, although studies on other kinds of cancers have given mixed results.

Just as our body shows signs of aging, such as grey hair and wrinkles, so does our genome. Damage comes from chemical reactions that alter the structure of our DNA, and from errors introduced when it is copied. Our cells protect against these ravages, but these mechanisms usually don’t have everything fixed perfectly.

As a result, cells gradually accumulate DNA damage over a lifetime. This means as you age, your genome is no longer the same in every cell. When a cell divides it will pass on these changes, and as these mutations accumulate, there is more and more likelihood that cancer will emerge.

Common Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

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Lack of sleep doesn’t just make you tired; it can have dangerous unseen effects. Our brains simply stop functioning properly without getting enough sleep. This means we have to struggle with memory, learning, planning and reasoning.

A lack of sleep can have severe effects on our performance, ranging from irritability and low mood, to an increased risk of heart disease. Here are some common dangers of sleep deprivation:

Impaired Judgement

angry boss
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Sleep deprivation has a negative impact on your visual working memory, making it difficult to tell the difference between relevant and irrelevant stimuli in your environment. It also affects your emotional intelligence, behavior, and ability to manage stress.

Mood Disorders

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Mental health problems are linked to sleep disorders, and sleep deprivation can play havoc with neurotransmitters in the brain, mimicking the symptoms of depression, anxiety and mania.

Raised Blood Pressure

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Poor sleep can raise blood pressure and in the long term is associated with an increased risk of diseases such as coronary heart disease and stroke. This danger is increased in people with sleep apnea.

Weight Gain

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Sleep deprivation affects the levels of hormones involved in regulating appetite. Levels of leptin, the hormone that tells you how much stored fat you have, decreases, and levels of ghrelin, the hormone that tells your body that you’re hungry, increases. As a result, you eat more.

It doesn’t really take a long time, or a lot of sleep deprivation, to bring the weight on. A study from researchers of University of Colorado reported that one week of sleeping about five hours a night led participants to gain an average of two pounds.

Delusions

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Severe sleep deprivation can lead to delusions and hallucinations, seeing or sensing things that aren’t really there. In extreme cases, it can lead to temporary psychosis or symptoms that resemble paranoid schizophrenia.

Struggling To Sleep? Share Your Experiences

Author Article

Woman in bed with illustrated sheep drawn above her head
 Counting sheep has been suggested for those who struggle to sleep. Photograph: Garo/Phanie/Getty Images/Passage

The Guardian is planning a new video project about sleep.

According to a study by health insurers, two thirds (67%) of UK adults suffer from disrupted sleep, and around 16 million say they have insomnia.

We’re hoping to understand more about how people are affected by sleep problems and would like readers to tell us how they navigate sleepless nights.

How to take part:

We want to include first-person video testimony from our readers. If you’re interested in getting involved, or would like to find out more about the project, please fill in your details below – and let us know a little bit about how sleep disruption affects you. We’ll contact you with instructions about how to submit your video contribution.

*author article has sign up page!

10 Things Insomnia Can Tell You About Your Health

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insomnia

Insomnia, or the lack of sleep, may lead to medical and psychiatric conditions. In some cases, it is these medical and mental issues that actually cause sleep problems. But whether insomnia is the cause or the effect, difficulty sleeping is definitely a sign that something is wrong with your health.

The National Sleep Foundation says that it’s always a good idea to have a general check-up with a health care provider if you have trouble getting regular sleep. It is important to determine if you have underlying health issues or sleep disorders because insomnia can affect the quality of your life.

1.    YOUR THYROID IS OVERACTIVE

You have a condition called hyperthyroidism if you have an overactive thyroid. This occurs when there’s more production of a hormone called thyroxine in the thyroid gland.

When you have hyperthyroidism, you could experience symptoms that seem to mimic other health conditions. Thus, it’s not always easy for doctors to catch the problem. Aside from insomnia, you may also experience the following symptoms of hyperthyroidism:

  • Change in appetite
  • Frequent bowel movement or diarrhea
  • Heart palpitations, rapid heartbeat, or irregular heartbeat
  • Muscle weakness and fatigue
  • Light menstruation and missed periods – for women
  • Fertility issues
  • Unusual sweating
  • Vision changes
  • Frequent dizziness
  • Hives and itching
  • Weight loss
  • Oversensitivity to heat
  • Swelling of the neck base

If your weight loss is sudden and you have two or more of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor for an assessment. Don’t forget to describe the changes you’ve noticed in your body to the doctor so that you can get the right diagnosis.

2.    YOU’RE HAVING ANXIETY ISSUES

What may be keeping you up at night are your concerns in life. Have you been going through something lately that’s causing a great deal of anxiety? Experts say that your mind can’t rest if you’re always anxious. If your mind cannot rest then you’re likely to sleep lightly and develop insomnia.

But the problem is that your sleeping brain cannot distinguish what’s happening compared to your waking brain. The neurotransmitters that send the signals in your brain won’t be able to cope with the threats that anxiety causes in your sleep. So, even if you think you’re making it through day by day with little or light sleep, it will eventually take its toll.

You have to see a therapist as soon as possible in order to sort out your anxiety issues. You have to find positive coping mechanisms that help calm your mind when you’re going to bed. For some people, these coping tools may include meditation, light exercises, and other soothing activities.

3.    YOU’RE PHYSICALLY STRESSED OUT

Just like mental stress or anxiety, physical stress may also lead to light sleeping. This is because your body’s temperature, heart rate, and adrenaline are higher, which affects your ability to engage in deep sleep, also known as REM sleep. REM sleep takes 25 percent of your sleep cycle. Its main functions are:

  • To store your brain’s long-term memories
  • To aid in your learning
  • To stabilize, enhance, and balance your mood

You lose the benefits of having deep sleep if your body can’t complete the REM phase of your sleep cycle. So, you wake up feeling more groggy and tired because your body didn’t actually get a good rest.

Thus, creating a relaxing routine for bedtime may help regulate your sleep cycle. You must also avoid doing heavy physical workouts two hours before you go to bed.

4.    YOU’RE EXPERIENCING ACID REFLUX

You won’t get a good night’s sleep no matter what you do if you’re suffering from acid reflux or heartburn. Diseases affecting the gastrointestinal tract can influence the quality of sleep because the acid contents from the stomach may rise back when you’re lying down the bed, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association.

You’re standing or sitting during the daytime so acid reflux won’t have much impact. When you’re reclining, however, the stomach acid can’t be pushed down to your stomach so you end up having interrupted sleep with a burning sensation in your chest and a sour taste in your throat. It’s an unpleasant feeling, to say the least.

There are over-the-counter medications to take care of this problem. You should see a doctor right away for the proper diagnosis or treatment. Apparently, 60 percent of patients with gastro issues suffer from sleep problems.

5.    YOU’RE HAVING HUNGER PANGS

Your bouts of insomnia might be related to your eating habits. If you have an irregular dinner schedule and you suddenly ate earlier, say between 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., then by 2 a.m. your brain triggers your body to demand fuel or food.

You get these hunger pangs because of a hormonal imbalance. This, once again, highlights the importance of having a routine so that you can be assured of a good rest. Try as much as possible not to mess with your dinner times so that it won’t also ruin your sleep cycle.

6.    YOU’RE DRINKING TOO MUCH COFFEE THROUGHOUT THE DAY

Do you know that coffee takes an average of eight to 10 hours to be completely eliminated in the body? If you drink a cup or two early in the day, at least 75 percent of it will be gone by the time you go home for dinner.

But if you drink coffee in the afternoon or less than six hours before you go to bed, then you may have problems getting decent sleep at night. Since caffeine is a stimulant, it can impede your sleep routine.

Ironically, if you’re trying to cut down on the coffee drinking, you might also experience insomnia since your body will go through withdrawal as an automatic response. You may also experience increased heart rate, headaches, and jitters that could impact your sleeping patterns.

But be patient as you get through the withdrawal stage. It’s much more positive to restore your sleep quality than continue to suffer from the effects of insomnia.

7.    YOU’VE GOT BAD SKIN, ESPECIALLY UNDER THE EYES

When you suffer from insomnia, your eyes turn puffy and the skin around it appears darker. This happens because sleep deprivation triggers your body to work double time to bring oxygen to your vital organs to prevent a breakdown, according to the experts via Telegraph.

But in doing so, your body doesn’t draw enough oxygen to the skin. So, in due time, the skin around your eyes grows darker because of the deoxygenated blood that flows through it. The dark circles also become more obvious because the skin around the eyes is thin.

Ever wonder why they call it beauty sleep? It’s because sleep has a positive effect on the health of the skin. Proper sleep allows:

  • Development of healthier hormones
  • Stimulation of the cells
  • Repair of body tissues
  • Formation of more collagen that will reduce skin aging

8.    YOU’RE LESS SHARP AND LACK FOCUS

Insomnia can lead to the deterioration of your cognitive function. You lose the ability to concentrate on a task. You also experience slow mental processing that could impact your ability to make decisions or solve problems.

The lack of sleep will dumb you down and affect your efficiency at work. You’ll be less sharp, less focused, and less alert. You won’t be able to grasp instructions or reason and state your case well because your cognition is impaired.

If you work at a high-risk job, where accuracy, vigilance, and safety are important, being an insomniac can definitely matter to your performance. A faulty brain function puts you and the people around you at risk. Thus, you need to see a doctor before you create a major blunder or accident that may hurt someone.

Long-term insomnia that’s not addressed or treated can lead to memory loss. This is because the lack of sleep doesn’t give your brain the chance to recover, recoup, and organize itself. There have been studies showing the improvement of memory recall following a night of good sleep. So, don’t delay finding a positive and doable solution to this problem.

9.    YOU’RE MORE PRONE TO COLDS, COUGH, AND FEVER

Do you always catch a cold or cough? Are you always the first one holed up in the bedroom during flu season? If you’re an insomniac, you’ll often find yourself with colds, cough, and fever because your body’s defenses against virus and bacteria are low.

A prolonged state of sleep deprivation is a lot similar to your body experiencing high levels of stress. As a result, your body’s immunities lower so you’re more vulnerable to getting sick.

Good sleep helps your body produce proteins called cytokines that help with infection and inflammation. When you’re not sleeping well, however, the level of this protein in your body drops so your antibodies weaken.

10.  YOUR BEDTIME ROUTINE AND SLEEPING CONDITIONS NEED TO BE IMPROVED

Your lifestyle plays a vital role in how you stay healthy. Perhaps the reason you’re having insomnia is that you don’t slow down from your activities even when you’re in bed. You also don’t make it a point to create a healthy environment for sleeping.

insomnia

Do you still use gadgets minutes before you shut your eyes? Studies have proven that this habit can disrupt your sleep cycle. Is your bedroom too messy or overly warm? The physical conditions around you can impact the quality of your sleep.

Make an effort to have a healthy routine and sleep conditions and see how much difference it will make in your sleep patterns. Don’t get used to the disorder and dysfunction; instead, listen to the signs your body is telling you.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THINGS INSOMNIA CAN TELL YOU ABOUT YOUR HEALTH

People spend nearly more than a fourth of their lives in bed but most don’t really make an effort to make their sleep quality count. If you make positive changes to how you sleep, you should see improvements right away if you’re suffering from acute insomnia.

But if your insomnia still lingers for weeks and months, you need to get a proper medical diagnosis for the disorder that’s really ailing you. There are individuals who don’t actually know that they’re not getting good sleep or suffering from insomnia. For this reason, a visit to the doctor or a specialist will be a big help.

12 Signs You Might Have an Anxiety Disorder

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What’s normal?

Everyone gets nervous or anxious from time to time—when speaking in public, for instance, or when going through financial difficulty. For some people, however, anxiety becomes so frequent, or so forceful, that it begins to take over their lives.

How can you tell if your everyday anxiety has crossed the line into a disorder? It’s not easy. Anxiety comes in many different forms—such as panic attacks, phobia, and social anxiety—and the distinction between an official diagnosis and “normal” anxiety isn’t always clear.

Here’s a start: If you experience any of the following symptoms on a regular basis, you may want to talk with your doctor.

Excessive worry

The hallmark of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)—the broadest type of anxiety—is worrying too much about everyday things, large and small. But what constitutes “too much”?

In the case of GAD, it means having persistent anxious thoughts on most days of the week, for six months. Also, the anxiety must be so bad that it interferes with daily life and is accompanied by noticeable symptoms, such as fatigue.

“The distinction between an anxiety disorder and just having normal anxiety is whether your emotions are causing a lot of suffering and dysfunction,” says Sally Winston, PsyD, co-director of the Anxiety and Stress Disorder Institute of Maryland in Towson.

Sleep problems

Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep is associated with a wide range of health conditions, both physical and psychological. And, of course, it’s not unusual to toss and turn with anticipation on the night before a big speech or job interview.

But if you chronically find yourself lying awake, worried or agitated—about specific problems (like money), or nothing in particular—it might be a sign of an anxiety disorder. By some estimates, fully half of all people with GAD experience sleep problems.

Another tip-off that anxiety might be involved? You wake up feeling wired, your mind is racing, and you’re unable to calm yourself down.

Irrational fears

Some anxiety isn’t generalized at all; on the contrary, it’s attached to a specific situation or thing—like flying, animals, or crowds. If the fear becomes overwhelming, disruptive, and way out of proportion to the actual risk involved, it’s a telltale sign of phobia, a type of anxiety disorder.

Although phobias can be crippling, they’re not obvious at all times. In fact, they may not surface until you confront a specific situation and discover you’re incapable of overcoming your fear. “A person who’s afraid of snakes can go for years without having a problem,” Winston says. “But then suddenly their kid wants to go camping, and they realize they need treatment.”

Muscle tension

Near-constant muscle tension—whether it consists of clenching your jaw, balling your fists, or flexing muscles throughout your body—often accompanies anxiety disorders. This symptom can be so persistent and pervasive that people who have lived with it for a long time may stop noticing it after a while.

Regular exercise can help keep muscle tension under control, but the tension may flare up if an injury or other unforeseen event disrupts a person’s workout habits, Winston says. “Suddenly they’re a wreck, because they can’t handle their anxiety in that way and now they’re incredibly restless and irritable.”

Chronic indigestion

Anxiety may start in the mind, but it often manifests itself in the body through physical symptoms, like chronic digestive problems. Irritable bowel syndrome(IBS), a condition characterized by stomachaches, cramping, bloating, gas, constipation, and/or diarrhea, “is basically an anxiety in the digestive tract,” Winston says.

IBS isn’t always related to anxiety, but the two often occur together and can make each other worse. The gut is very sensitive to psychological stress—and, vice versa, the physical and social discomfort of chronic digestive problems can make a person feel more anxious.

Stage fright

Most people get at least a few butterflies before addressing a group of people or otherwise being in the spotlight. But if the fear is so strong that no amount of coaching or practice will alleviate it, or if you spend a lot of time thinking and worrying about it, you may have a form of social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia).

People with social anxiety tend to worry for days or weeks leading up to a particular event or situation. And if they do manage to go through with it, they tend to be deeply uncomfortable and may dwell on it for a long time afterward, wondering how they were judged.

Self-consciousness

Social anxiety disorder doesn’t always involve speaking to a crowd or being the center of attention. In most cases, the anxiety is provoked by everyday situations such as making one-on-one conversation at a party, or eating and drinking in front of even a small number of people.

In these situations, people with social anxiety disorder tend to feel like all eyes are on them, and they often experience blushing, trembling, nausea, profuse sweating, or difficulty talking. These symptoms can be so disruptive that they make it hard to meet new people, maintain relationships, and advance at work or in school.

Panic

Panic attacks can be terrifying: Picture a sudden, gripping feeling of fear and helplessness that can last for several minutes, accompanied by scary physical symptoms such as breathing problems, a pounding or racing heart, tingling or numb hands, sweating, weakness or dizziness, chest pain, stomach pain, and feeling hot or cold.

Not everyone who has a panic attack has an anxiety disorder, but people who experience them repeatedly may be diagnosed with panic disorder. People with panic disorder live in fear about when, where, and why their next attack might happen, and they tend to avoid places where attacks have occurred in the past.

Flashbacks

Reliving a disturbing or traumatic event—a violent encounter, the sudden death of a loved one—is a hallmark of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which shares some features with anxiety disorders. (Until very recently, in fact, PTSD was seen as a type of anxiety disorder rather than a stand-alone condition.)

But flashbacks may occur with other types of anxiety as well. Some research, including a 2006 study in theJournal of Anxiety Disorders, suggests that some people with social anxiety have PTSD-like flashbacks of experiences that might not seem obviously traumatic, such as being publicly ridiculed. These people may even avoid reminders of the experience—another symptom reminiscent of PTSD.

Perfectionism

The finicky and obsessive mind-set known as perfectionism “goes hand in hand with anxiety disorders,” Winston says. “If you are constantly judging yourself or you have a lot of anticipatory anxiety about making mistakes or falling short of your standards, then you probably have an anxiety disorder.”

Perfectionism is especially common in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which, like PTSD, has long been viewed as an anxiety disorder. “OCD can happen subtly, like in the case of somebody who can’t get out of the house for three hours because their makeup has to be absolutely just right and they have to keep starting over,” Winston says.

Compulsive behaviors

In order to be diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, a person’s obsessiveness and intrusive thoughts must be accompanied by compulsive behavior, whether it’s mental (telling yourself It’ll be all right over and over again) or physical (hand-washing, straightening items).

Obsessive thinking and compulsive behavior become a full-blown disorder when the need to complete the behaviors—also known as “rituals”—begins to drive your life, Winston says. “If you like your radio at volume level 3, for example, and it breaks and gets stuck on 4, would you be in a total panic until you could get it fixed?”

Self-doubt

Persistent self-doubt and second-guessing is a common feature of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder and OCD. In some cases, the doubt may revolve around a question that’s central to a person’s identity, like “What if I’m gay?” or “Do I love my husband as much as he loves me?”

In OCD, Winston says, these “doubt attacks” are especially common when a question is unanswerable. People with OCD “think, ‘If only I would know 100% for sure whether I was gay or straight, either one would be fine,’ but they have this intolerance for uncertainty that turns the question into an obsession,” she says.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

5 Life Threatening Side Effects of Not Getting Enough Sleep

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Sleep deprivation is a huge concern across developed nations, with nearly two thirds of adults reporting that they regularly don’t get enough sleep. And while you’re probably aware that not getting enough sleep affects your mood, you might be surprised by all the other things that insufficient sleep can mean for your health.

First off, researchers now believe that sleep is one of the most significant factors in whether or not you’ll develop Alzheimer’s disease later in life. When you sleep, the glymphatic system in your brain kicks in. This system works as a sort of cleanser for your brain, removing a toxic protein known as beta amyloid. High levels of beta amyloid are associated with developing Alzheimier’s.

You may have also noticed that sleeping less makes you snack more. That’s because when you’re sleep deprived, hormones that make you feel hungry are increased, while the ones that make you feel full are decreased. So sleep-deprived people are actually prone to overeating, which makes them more susceptible to undesired weight gain.

Lack of sleep also drastically increases the likelihood of having a heart attack. You don’t need to look much further than daylight savings to see the impacts even just one less hour of sleep can have on heart health. In the spring, when the clocks skip an hour, the number of heart attacks jumps by 24 percent the next day. In contrast, when we gain an extra hour of sleep in the fall, heart attacks are reduced by 21 percent.

Over time, consistent sleep loss can compromise your immune system and make you more likely to develop cancer. That’s why the World Health Organization classifies night-time shift work as a carcinogen.

And athletes who don’t get enough shuteye often lose their competitive abilities. Sleeping any less than six hours a night makes you likelier to hit your point of physical exhaustion 10 to 30 percent sooner than you would otherwise. Things like strength and flexibility are also reduced after a poor night’s sleep, so it’s not surprising that athletes who don’t get enough sleep are also twice as likely to sustain an injury over the course of a single season compared to peers who get nine hours a night.

And perhaps most strikingly is the fact that regularly sleeping only five hours a night increases your risk of dying at any given moment by a huge 65 percent!

So, if you’re feeling a little burnt out and in need of catching up on sleep, you should probably take that seriously. If nothing else, it’s a good excuse to smoke a joint and sleep in a bit longer on the weekends.

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