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How does losing just two hours sleep affect your health?

When it comes to your list of priorities chances are getting a good night’s sleep isn’t one of them. It’s an easy trap to fall into, but staying up for an extra hour or two each night ads up. This somewhat “harmless” habit is wreaking havoc on your body, especially if it happens a couple of times a week.

You’re not alone, almost half of Australians aren’t getting the recommended seven-to-nine hours of shuteye a night but does an extra two hours of slumber really help your health? Here we discover the impact that it may have on your body.

  1. Irritability

Do you find that even the smallest things get on your nerve after a rough night’s sleep? You’re not the only one with a short fuse, with millennials coining the state ‘slangry.’ A study from the Iowa State University found a direct link between negative emotions and just two hours less of those precious zzz’s 1. Participants of the study who had their slumber cut short for just one night reported increased irritability, decreased memory and concentration and heightened emotions.

Guy Meadows, founder of the Sleep School explains “sleep deprivation is a form of stress — and causes the elevation of stress hormones such as cortisol. In small quantities, cortisol is fine. But when you’re exposed to it over long periods of time, cortisol can lead to damage.” 

  1. Immunity

Whilst a bad night’s sleep every once in a while will have you feeling grumpy if it becomes more of a frequent occurrence studies reveal that it impairs your immune system2. When your body is sleep deprived it has to works harder to perform its daily bodily functions, add to the mix fighting off a cold and your immune system won’t be able to protect you as well as when you’re well rested.

  1. Physical appearance

Sleep deprivation doesn’t look good on anyone. In a study by the Sleep School London participants who experienced two hours, less sleep per night for one week saw an impact on physical appearance3. The female subjects saw fine lines and wrinkles increase by 45 per cent and spots increased by 13 per cent, respectively in comparison to when they slept for the recommended 7-9 hours per night.

The way you sleep affects your skin through interfering with the production of collagen, a key protein for keeping your skin healthy. “Skin cells are effectively repaired during sleep and to do that, collagen levels need to be intact. A lot of collagen is produced during the night” Meadows says. So if you aren’t getting enough shuteye your body doesn’t have enough time to repair and rejuvenate the cells which may lead to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Given the consequences of our sleeplessness, it’s not surprising that more people than ever are looking for solutions, to help promote a better night’s snooze try these four scientifically-backed methods 4. Set yourself an alarm not only for when you need to wake-up but for your optimal bedtime, this will help hold you accountable so you can get that crucial slumber.

You may also be interested in reading the following article:

* Bedtime habits to promote a better nights sleep

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