When life gets crazy and it’s time to cut things out, oftentimes the first thing to go is our sleep. College students never get enough rest, parents are always somehow sleep-deprived, and even young professionals are constantly pressured to achieve more with their free time and, as a consequence, sleep less.
The issue has rapidly worsened over the past couple generations. According to the American Psychological Association, “only 20 percent of adults say the quality of their sleep is very good or excellent.” That means one-fifth of Americans are satisfied with their sleep. That’s pretty dismal.
Our communal and chronic lack of sleep is actually quite new. In 1942, less than 8 percent of people reported scraping by on six or fewer hours of sleep a night. In 2017, however, nearly half of us do it. And for what? Are we accomplishing more, getting healthier, or advancing society by depriving ourselves of a basic human need? Not at all.
It’s likely the opposite — failing to get enough sleep doesn’t feel good, as you probably are aware. And there’s a reason it makes you feel so terrible. Sleep deprivation is really bad for you, especially when the lack becomes chronic and habitual, and has a lot of really frightening effects on our physical health.