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Cheat on Sleep, and It Will Cheat on You.

Cheat on Sleep, and It Will Cheat on You. 1024 701 BodyWHealth

Do you yawn when you’re told to get more sleep? Are you tired of hearing this advice? Here are two powerful reasons to take it seriously.

Most swash-buckling executives and entrepreneurs boast about how little sleep they get. They wear black rims under their eyes like medals of honor. Sadly, this is a highly contagious attitude, especially within organizations. When fatigue becomes a surrogate for success, we dishonor our natural design, with perilous consequences.

Most of us are familiar with the physical, mental and emotional consequences of sleep deprivation. Many of us have suffered the consequences, with drained energy, increased vulnerability to infections, impaired judgment and mood swings. Some of us know that the loss of a full night’s sleep produces neurological impairment equivalent to full-blown intoxication. If you’re not aware of these desperate consequences, or the alarming prevalence of sleep deprivation, I hope that you’ll read this article that identifies sleep hygiene as one of our top three priorities for health and happiness.

Sleep deprivation also has more subtle, even unexpected consequences. And you don’t need to accumulate an enormous volume of sleep debt to fall victim to these maladies.

Sleep deprivation makes the world a cold and scary place. Neuroscientists from the University of California, Berkeley found that our ability to discriminate between threatening and friendly body language was significantly compromised by sleep deprivation. They found that we lose the ability to accurately interpret facial expression when we get too little sleep. Sadly, we tend to misread people’s intentions, assuming hostility far more often than is warranted.

There are two glaring implications of this finding. First, when we lose sleep, the world becomes cold. We deny ourselves access to a ton of very sensitive cues that normally enable our interpersonal relationships. This dulled empathy not only limits our enjoyment of interactions, but it makes us socially clumsy, hampering both personal and professional performance. Worse than this, the world becomes scary. We see danger where it doesn’t exist. This not only leaves us feeling sad and isolated, but can fuel paranoia, with disastrous self-reinforcing consequences. When we lose sleep, we become lonely and frightened.

Sleep deprivation impairs our moral judgment. A series of elegant studies led by scientists at the University of Washington, Foster School of Business demonstrated that sleep deprivation adversely impacts our moral awareness. Laboratory studies that manipulated volunteers’ sleep, and diary studies that record the natural variation in sleep patterns both showed that sleep loss impairs our moral judgment. In another fascinating study, the same researchers measured the number of internet searches on moral topics. Remarkably, the volume of moral searches dips the day after we move the clocks forward in spring. Simply losing one hour of sleep affected our moral curiosity. Other research has measured the impact of this moral insensitivity, and reveals a statistical association between sleep loss and unethical behavior – a matter of grave concern for our personal and work lives.

So, next time a wise, caring BodyWHealth expert advises you to get more sleep, please think about the multitude of ways it will positively impact your health, your happiness, and your performance. Nature gave us rest for good reason. When we honor our natural design, we are handsomely rewarded.

Have fun,