Sure, you know you’re supposed to be getting between seven and eight hours of sleep a night. But there are never enough hours in the day and skipping out on an hour can’t hurt, right?
It turns out shaving just an hour off of your shut-eye time can have some serious health consequences. When you lose an hour of zzz’s you raise your risk for…
Losing out on an hour of sleep makes you far more likely to catch a cold. In a joint study from UC San Francisco, Carnegie-Mellon, and the University of Pittsburgh, researchers showed that people who slept less than seven hours—even just by a single hour—were four times more likely to catch a cold!
2. Car accidents:
According to AAA, seven percent of all crashes and 21 percent of fatal car accidents are linked in some way to sleep deprivation. Sleeping for less than seven hours increases your risk of getting into an accident, but so does getting an hour less sleep than whatever it is you’re used to. Which means if you’re used to eight hours, even seven can be deadly when you’re behind the wheel of a car.
3. Colon cancer:
Skipping a single hour of sleep at night could send your risk for colon cancer skyrocketing. In a study from the National Cancer Institute, people who only got six hours of sleep instead of the recommended seven minimum increased their risk of colon cancer by as much as if they’d had a close family member with the disease.
4. Triggers the wrong genes:
This one’s a little more complicated, but stay with us. Physical responses like stress, inflammation, and immune response are all associated with certain genes. The more active those genes are, the more likely you are to be stressed, have inflammation, and a weakened immune response.
On the other hand, when those genes aren’t as active you’re better able to hand stress, your body controls its inflammatory response and your immune system works more efficiently. Losing that hour of sleep trigger all those genes. But the good news is the same study found getting that hour of sleep back again can help switch them off again.
Surefire tricks for a good night’s sleep
Luckily, there are some simple tricks you can try to help ensure you get a good night’s sleep.
Give yourself “wind down” time:
You can’t fall asleep if you’re busy and active right up until the moment you get in bed. Settle down at least an hour before you want to fall asleep. Take a bath or have a cup of tea. Read a book. Do whatever it is that helps you relax.
Turn off electronics:
At least an hour before bed shut down all your electronics from laptops to televisions. Studies have shown the glow of modern electronics can interrupt our circadian rhythms keeping us awake long after we turn in for the night. Make the hour before bed a tech-free zone.
Write it down:
It’s easier to let go of stress if you have a plan to deal with it. So write yourself notes for tomorrow. That way you can literally rest assured that you won’t forget anything, and can sleep knowing you’ve already got a plan for tomorrow.
Skipping an hour of sleep can be bad for your health. Make sleep a priority and commit to at least seven or eight hour hours of solid sleep a night to reverse your risks.