As an entrepreneur or leader, is there ever a time when you don't have a million things on your mind as you leave the office for the day? Often what you take home doesn't stay in the car, but it follows you throughout your time at home all the way to bedroom, thus preventing you from getting a good night sleep. This can have consequences if it occurs repeatedly.

It's virtually impossible for some people to shut it down and turn it off when they go home for the evening. But the consequences follow you well into the next day and affect you both physically and mentally. Sleep deprivation is a serious problem. The amount of sleep that a person needs varies from one person to another, but on average most adults need about seven to eight hours each night to feel alert and well rested. About one in five adults fail to get enough sleep.

Interestingly, according to WebMD, the amount of sleep a person needs also increases if he or she has been deprived of sleep in previous days. Getting too little sleep creates a "sleep debt," which is much like being overdrawn at a bank. Eventually, your body will demand that the debt be repaid. Reasons people often do not get enough sleep include true medical problems, work hours, stressors at work, and lifestyle.

However, people think that they can supplement their sleep with quick power naps, energy drinks, coffee or other stimulants that can't take the place of real sleep. So people will suffer throughout the day, only attributing some of their concerns to a lack of sleep, when so much more is going on under the surface. A lack of sleep can cause the following:

1. Memory loss

Learning or experiencing something new and having the ability to access the memory in the future are functions that take place when you are awake. However, researchers believe sleep is required for consolidation of a memory, no matter the memory type. Without adequate sleep, your brain has a harder time absorbing and recalling new information.

2. Concentration problems

Studies have found that people who are sleep deprived have problems not only concentrating but their judgment is skewed. You may find that it takes you longer to respond to things. It is known that sleep deprivation causes people to not think clearly.

3. Increased appetite

When we run short of sleep, blood levels of leptin drop. Sleep deprivation also increases levels of the hormone gherlin, which is known to stimulate the appetite. Sleep homeostasis and weight homeostasis thus interact. Ghrelin and leptin regulate the body's energy balance, making the brain feel hungry or full according to Sleepdex (www.sleepdex.org/appetite2.htm). You may find yourself tired and hungry which leads to eating and weight gain.

4. Depression

According to the National Sleep Foundation, insomnia is very common among depressed patients. Evidence suggests that people with insomnia have a ten-fold risk of developing depression compared with those who sleep well. Depressed individuals may suffer from a range of insomnia symptoms, including difficulty falling asleep (sleep onset insomnia), difficulty staying asleep (sleep maintenance insomnia), unrefreshing sleep, and daytime sleepiness.

These are but a few consequences of not getting the sleep that your body calls for, but there are many more issues that you may encounter when you pull an all-nighter or go to the office in the middle of the night to work on a pending project. It's not uncommon for a small business owner to work on average 12 hour days with personal obligations that fill up the remainder of your time. If you are feeling overwhelmed you should listen to your body's cry for sleep.

Published on: Jun 24, 2015
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