Sleep is a critical component of good health and well-being. It's the only time when our bodies can recuperate from the many stresses we apply to it on a daily basis. It helps our brains function optimally, allows our organ systems to repair themselves, and lowers our likelihood of developing deteriorative diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia.
So it's a little concerning to hear that a considerable proportion of the Canadian population is not getting enough shut eye. According to recent report published by the Rand Corporation, more than a quarter of Canadians are getting fewer than 7 hours of sleep. This is definitely a problem, since new scientific findings suggest that everyone, no matter what age, needs just under 8 hours of sleep each night to avoid the development of major health problems down the road. Lack of sleep has been linked to as many as seven leading causes of death in the US, which includes cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, malignant neoplasm, septicaemia and accidents.
Not much has changed from last year, when another study ranked Canada the third most sleep-deprived country in the world.
To illustrate the severity of the consequences of lack of sleep, consider the fact that it takes just one night of sleep deprivation to alter your gene structure. That means each time you pulled an all-nighter for school or work, you forced the one thing that dictates every aspect of who you are to mutate into something different. Every time you didn't get enough sleep, you essentially became a new person.
Sleep deprivation doesn't only impact health, either - it also impacts national industries and the economy as a whole. The study found that Canada loses up to 600,000 working hours every year to lack of sleep, which consequently costs the Canadian economy a whopping $21 billion each year (roughly 1.35 per cent of the country's GDP).
So you see, sleep is more important than you may have initially thought. Too many times we take those precious moments of shut eye for granted. It's time to make a change in our lifestyles, Canada!