Sleep: How does it actually affect us?

1st July 2016

Recent studies in the US show that lack of sleep is costing their economy $63.2 billion a year. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) this equates to a total of 11.3 days, per person, of work lost across a year.

Researchers at the University of California San Francisco have found that you are “four times more likely to catch a cold when exposed to the virus,” when you have less than six hours of sleep.

We often hear stories of university students who stay up late at night to complete assignments; however, research would suggest that getting to bed a little earlier would increase efficiency, thus taking less time to finish their work.

But how can we encourage people to “get an early night.” Well an American firm, Aetna, have started paying their staff to sleep. As strange as this sounds the company has agreed to pay each staff member $25 for every 20 days in which they sleep for more than seven hours, with a capped limit of $300 per annum. And with around 12,000 of the total 25,000 employees enrolled on the scheme the company has seen improvements to their work output.

A test done at the University of Surrey showed some interesting results in a loss of just one hour of sleep. The research found that not only is your mental ability affected by a lack of sleep, but also that around 500 genes were affected throughout the body. With these genes normally helping the body, cope with inflammation, immune response and response to stress, the risks of heart disease and cancer can increase.

All in all, it would appear that getting an “early night” can actually increase your bodies function from day to day, in all aspects.