Latest News » What causes a lack of sleep? Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation impairs judgment, preventing us from assessing just how much sleep we really need.

Sleep deprivation impairs judgment, preventing us from assessing just how much sleep we really need.

The body needs to sleep and cannot function without it. The ideal amount of rest each night is seven to eight hours, and consistently falling outside of this range by more than an hour can have detrimental consequences for brain health. We've covered some of these health problems on this blog before — including depression, weight gain and weakened memory support — but one of the worst side effects is impaired judgment

All too often, we run into people either at school or around the office who boast about how little sleep they got the night before and were still able to show up that morning feeling perfectly fine (or so they claim). Perhaps we've even done it ourselves once or twice. But the fact is, sleep deprivation infringes our ability to accurately evaluate situations and make sound judgments on them. In other words, if we think we're getting by well enough without seven hours of sleep, the truth is that we probably aren't and just don't realize it.

"Studies show that over time, people who are getting six hours of sleep, instead of seven or eight, begin to feel that they've adapted to that sleep deprivation — they've gotten used to it," sleep expert Phil Gehrman tells WebMD. "But if you look at how they actually do on tests of mental alertness and performance, they continue to go downhill. So there's a point in sleep deprivation when we lose touch with how impaired we are."

This also includes gauging just how much sleep we get. If sleep deprivation impairs our ability to assess how much sleep we need, then one of the reasons why you may not be getting that full seven hours is because sleep deprivation has convinced you that you don't need it.

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