Lee, an assistant professor at the University of South Florida’s School of Aging Studies and director of the Sleep, Stress and Health (STEALTH) Lab, studies sleep and the various factors that affect it across populations.
However, the daily effects of continuous sleep loss have not been studied so far. The new study focused specifically on daily side effects of sleep loss, which was defined as getting less than six hours of sleep a night, and whether there are cumulative effects of repeated sleep loss on daily well-being.
“Sleep has been one of the underrated health outcomes despite the fact that sleep is very closely linked to so many different health outcomes,” Lee said.
The study examined daily diary data for eight consecutive days from 1,958 adults who took the Midlife in the United States Survey (MIDUS) conducted between 2004 and 2006.
The analysis showed that sleep loss in one night resulted in increased negative well-being and decreased positive well-being, both physically and mentally. In addition, these effects were amplified with several consecutive nights of sleep loss, especially after three nights.
“When sleep loss occurs almost every day, which means (it is) chronic, it is when our body and mind can no longer tolerate it,” Lee said. “The study shows that consistent sleep loss results in incomplete recovery and stress buildup and degrades our daily well-being.”
As the number of consecutive days of sleep loss increased, the severity of adverse physical effects – including body aches, gastrointestinal problems, and respiratory symptoms such as sore throat and runny nose – also increased, according to the study.
Lee said participants felt the worst physical effects after six consecutive days of sleep loss.
Dr. Bhanu Kolla, associate professor of psychiatry and psychology at the Mayo Clinic with a particular interest in sleep, said the results deepen our understanding of the negative effects of sleep deprivation. He was not involved in the investigation.
This study adds to what we already know, “which is (that) sleep is one of the pillars of good health and attention to one’s sleep and gives ourselves enough opportunity to sleep, being aware that if you is sleep deprived, will feel bad, “Kolla said.” This is likely to get worse the more sleep deprived you are, and therefore make sleep a priority. “
Kolla said he would like to see how quickly the negative impact on well-being “settles down” when you go back to sleep normally.
The study differs from most previous studies in that it uses real data instead of studying sleep in laboratory settings, providing additional insight with a larger sample size, he said. However, reliance on self-reported data rather than objective measures is not ideal, Kolla added.
Look forward to
People do not understand how important sleep is for both daily and long-term well-being, Lee said. She added that sleep routines in adults affect their children and families, so optimal adult sleep is important for the general population.
“We need to prioritize our sleep in daily life,” Lee said. “Because we’re all busy, sleep is often compromised because of other responsibilities.”
Kolla said the study justifies further research into whether we can help people sleep longer and see if it helps them feel better. Lee’s long-term goal is to research and develop a sleep-promoting and intervention program that is easy for participants and can be implemented in their daily lives.
Her recommendation to individuals to improve their sleep now is to recognize that sleep is one of three health pillars along with diet and physical exercise. If you maintain a regular routine that includes good diet and physical exercise, she said, there would likely also be a synergistic effect on daily sleep. Lee also recommends sticking to a consistent bedtime and waking time as much as possible.