I’ve never been one of those people who can pull an "all-nighter."
I’ve also noticed that on the nights where I get less sleep, I tend to have less willpower the next day to resist the "I shouldnt's" in my life—whether it’s a latte "with whip," a skipped workout, or a fast food dinner because I'm too tired to cook.
But now, science can explain why lack of sleep affects my health…and how lack of sleep affects my wallet. Read on to learn how your sleep habits may be affecting your wellness resolutions—and how changing your sleep patterns can help you feel better and save funds!
Developing good sleep hygiene
The National Sleep Foundation terms developing good sleep habits "good sleep hygiene."
If you want to lose weight, get in shape and have a high quality of life—here is what you need to do.
- Go light at night: Avoid heavy meals, tobacco, alcohol and caffeine as bedtime nears.
- Wind down: Take time to wind down (for example: turn off bright lights, devices, etc.) before sleep.
- Create a routine: Create a bedtime routine that can have a "Pavlovian effect" on you.
- Exercise: Try to get some heart rate-raising exercise daily.
- Keep your same schedule: Stay on the same waking and sleep schedule for weekdays and weekends.
- Make your bedroom comfy: Make sure your bedroom environment is restful and comfy.
How much sleep do we need?
The Sleep Foundation offers the following minimum daily sleep guidelines:
- Kids and tweens: 10 hours
- Teens: 9-10 hours
- Adults: 7-8 hours
5 Ways lack of sleep can cost you
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) calls lack of sleep a "public health epidemic." Read on to learn why—and find the motivation to change your sleep patterns!
1. Lack of sleep causes cravings
When you don't get enough sleep, your body requires more energy to function at the same level the next day. This creates the need to "scavenge" for extra energy—which both generates cravings and lowers your body's overall metabolic function.
- How it affects your health: As you consume more caffeine and give in to cravings (often for sweet, starchy and carb-laden foods with quick energy potential), you put on pounds both due to extra calories and due to your body's lowered ability to effectively use available energy.
- How it affects your wallet: One Starbuck's "tall" latte is $3.97. The average vending machine snack costs $1.00. So if you take five sleep-related snack breaks per week, you spend $5 times 5 days = $25 per week. $25 times 52 weeks = $1,300 per year!
2. Lack of sleep increases stress
Examining the interaction between sleep and stress highlights how the two are interrelated—each can cause and affect the other.
- How it affects your health: Signs of stress include anxiety, depression, irritability, concentration problems, apathy and increased propensity for mistakes (at home, at work and behind the wheel).
- How it affects your wallet: From an auto accident (because you weren’t as quick to react due to sleepiness), to a poor performance review at work (impacting a potential raise or bonus)—the higher your stress rises, the more you will pay to manage it.
3. Lack of sleep lowers metabolic function
This might not sound so dire at first—until you realize how important sleep is in helping the body access and use insulin. Even just a few nights of sleep deprivation can create insulin resistance in your body.
- How it affects your health: Insulin resistance over time can lead to diabetes, weight gain/obesity, heart disease and fatalities.
- How it affects your wallet: The American Diabetes Association (ADA) reports the average adult diagnosed with diabetes will spend just under $14,000 per year to treat the disease.
4. Lack of sleep makes you vulnerable to mood disturbances
Temporary anxiety, depression and mood swings can be a part of life's inevitable ups and downs, but when these issues become chronic, they also become dangerous. One of the easiest ways to trigger chronic mood disturbances is chronic lack of sleep.
- How it affects your health: Not only can mood disturbances trigger emotional eating and weight gain, but over time such disturbances can literally rewire your brain in such a way that it "forgets" how to stabilize your mood on its own.
- How it affects your wallet: Mood and therapy specialists report chronic mood disturbance costs the average adult more than $10,000 per year in lost income by the age of 50 (so $100,000 in income lost per decade!)
5. Lack of sleep causes dehydration
Oh, you may think—"Dehydration? No big deal!" but I’m one of two members in my immediate family who has been hospitalized for dehydration. I have been hyper-vigilant about staying hydrated ever since.
- How it affects your health: As you drink more caffeine and salty/sugary foods to try to boost energy levels, this causes your kidneys to work harder to excrete toxins and rehydrate your body, which over time can lead to dehydration.
- How it affects your wallet: Not only can dehydration be fatal, but it can also cause a host of health issues ranging from mild to severe. Every year hospital stays due to dehydration cost American families an estimated $5.5 billion dollars.