As a society, we have yet to acknowledge the importance of sleep, even though fatigue is a major cause of traffic and industrial accidents. These accidents take their toll in billions of dollars in costs, thousands of deaths and millions of disabilities.
In his book, Sleep Thieves, Stanley Corn says intelligence, measured as IQ, drops with each hour of sleep lost. The more sleep deprived you are, the lower your IQ. Adequate sleep is crucial to keeping you functioning at peak performance levels.
Its not proven, but it appears that the immune system works better when youre asleep, which may be why grandmas time-tested treatment for colds and flu is to get plenty of rest.
Adequate sleep may also help prevent disease. Have you ever noticed that the week after you pull an all-nighter, you invariably come down with a cold? It may be as simple a matter as lack of sleep making your immune system operate less efficiently to protect you against disease.
Corn says the human body needs at least nine, maybe ten hours of sleep a night, but everyone is different. A survey once showed that Americans sleep an average of 6.4 hours a night. Even using eight as a benchmark means most of us are racking up sleep debt at the rate of about 1.5 hours a day.
The long-term effects of chronic sleep deprivation are unknown. But its safe to say that you are likely to be healthier, more productive, have fewer accidents and generally feel better if you adjust your schedule to include a restful nights sleep.