Why Trading Sleep for Work or Games Can Do More Harm Than Good

In our latest at Geek & Sundry, Lida Turner, MD, makes an argument for the very thing some of us struggle with nightly: hitting the sack in a timely fashion.

Full nights with good sleep hygiene aren’t always practical, but they’re worth prioritizing. Let Lida explain the details:

Not getting good sleep for a night here and there isn’t the end of the world, but consistently not sleeping well can cause problems. Studies have shown that getting even 2 hours less than recommended leads to worse thought processing, worse mood, worse memory, and worse functioning overall. Imagine what those deficits could be doing to your game performance or creativity, never mind the rest of your life. Even after recovery sleep (like when we sleep in on the weekends), these issues may still be a problem. Oddly enough, many people don’t realize they are sleep deficient, or they know they didn’t get enough sleep but feel they can operate as normal even in that state. This has been shown not to be so, and there are serious health risks. Chronic sleep deprivation increases your risk of obesity, developing diabetes, and heart problems to name a few.

What happens when we add caffeine to the mix to help us stay up? Caffeine at low to moderate dosing – like a cup of coffee or tea, or one serving of energy drink – is an excellent natural supplement for short term improvement in alertness, vigilance, and reaction time, however, there is less consistent improvement in memory and things like decision making. In other words, it will keep you in the game, but good luck if you need to strategize or make snap decisions. Caffeine can make you feel more alert for a short period, but you’re still suffering from all the consequences of sleep deprivation.

Read on at Geek & Sundry, and give yourself a stronger argument for sleep when you need it.