Why is Sleep Important?
Sleep is a biological necessity. While you can get away with not getting enough sleep for a while, sleep deprivation takes a toll on your body and mind.
You can survive without food for about two months. The best-known - or best-reported - record for surviving without sleep was Randy Gardner's 11 days and 25 minutes. The results, in addition to an entry on Wikipedia, included:
Gardner also suffered from chronic insomnia decades after the experiment.
According to the CDC, a lack of sleep can result in a loss of mental and physical performance, including:
As well as increased risks of:
If you work long hours or at night, sleep is particularly important. About one-fifth of all driver crashes are caused by drivers who are too tired.
Similarly to someone under the influence of alcohol feeling more capable than they are, tiredness can lead to a dramatic decline in actual performance. If you are driving, at work, cooking, or operating machinery, this can have serious consequences.
Being awake for 17 hours, say from 6am to 11pm, can be compared to having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05%. This can get you in trouble for drunk driving in some countries.
Compared to an 8-hour shift at work, a 10-hour shift can increase the risk of errors and accidents by 13%. Make that 28% if you add a couple of hours overtime.
Willpower and necessity can keep you going. (I hear you parents, students, and shift workers. I've been all three. And I know people who are all three at once).
But it's vital to be aware that there's "keeping going" and there's "going downhill." If you're not getting sleep, nobody's getting the best version of you.