To be a healthy, optimally functioning adult, you need between seven and nine hours of sleep every night. But how do you know if you’re good with seven and can afford to stay out for that extra drink, or if you actually need nine?
It’s a pretty essential thing to figure out, because sleep deprivation leads to a whole range of problems, from feeling like crap, to getting fat, to a higher risk of accidents. So we asked a sleep expert for some of the less-obvious signs that you’re not sleeping enough -- and if you feel tired, sleep!
You space out more than usual
A host of studies have shown that sleep deprivation is bad for cognition... otherwise known as thinking. If you realize that you were totally spacing out for the past 10 minutes, you just can’t seem to organize that simple memo, or you can’t remember what you did Thursday evening, then sure, you might have ADHD, you suck at your job, or you're drinking too much. Or it could be that you’re sleeping too little!
“Besides being sleepy or having to consume lots of coffee and energy drinks in order not to be sleepy, the other signs of too little sleep are shared with other kinds of problems,” says Harvard sleep expert Dr. Edward Pace-Schott. “But it’s pretty well known that the brain needs sleep in order to operate most effectively.” In fact, when someone is sleep deprived, there’s literally less brain activity going on up there. Attention, decision-making, and memory are among the functions that really start to slide when your sleep does.