A recent study conducted at the USF School of Aging Studies has highlighted the negative impact of inconsistent sleep. The symptoms that can result from inconsistent sleep affected both physical and mental health.

The Study

Soomi Lee, an assistant professor at the USF School of Aging Studies, analyzed diary data from nearly 2,000 adults who participated in the Midlife in the United States Study. This study sought to find how sleep loss affects the body. The participating adults logged their mental and physical behaviors for 8 consecutive days.

The Results

Lee found that after 1 night of less than 6 hours of sleep, there was a jump in recorded symptoms. This number of symptoms peaked after 3 consecutive nights of less than 6 hours of sleep.

Recorded physical symptoms included aches, upper respiratory problems, and gastrointestinal problems. The recorded mental symptoms were feelings of anger, frustration, irritability, nervousness and loneliness. All of these symptoms remained at elevated levels during periods of sleep loss. In addition, these symptoms didn’t return to baseline levels until the participants got a night of sleep of more than 6 hours.

Our Conclusion

This goes to show the importance of consistent, quality sleep. The myth that someone can simply “make up” lost hours of sleep is simply untrue. If you get less than 6 hours of sleep one night, that’s enough to cause physical or mental symptoms that negatively impact your day. Not to mention that if you get less than 6 hours of sleep several days in a row you are doing a major disservice to yourself and your health.

On average, adults should be getting 7 – 9 hours of sleep every night, consistently. If you find yourself getting less than that most nights or sleeping more but feeling unrested, then consider taking a free sleep screening. You may be suffering from a sleep disorder that is impacting your health more than you realize.