How many times have you told yourself (especially when you’re up at 2 a.m. on a Sunday night): “Eh, it’s just sleep.” Is it just sleep, though? What happens to your health when you’re not sleeping enough?
This infographic designed by FFunction for Zeo, a company that makes an electronic “sleep coach,” is less of a real data visualization than a set of illustrated facts. But the facts are pretty gobsmacking. For example, we, as a nation, seem pretty tired all the time: Only 7% of people get eight hours of sleep a night. But the effects of this might be calamitous: Getting less sleep is associated with a 200% rise in cancer, a 100% rise in heart disease, and a 20% rise in the likelihood you’ll be dead in 20 years. Not only will you be less healthy, you’ll be fatter. People who sleep an hour more each day lose 14.3 pounds per year. (?!!). And 1 in 3 women find themselves too sleepy for sex:
Scientists are inching closer to an explanation of how all this might be the case. (It really does seem that the lack of sleep itself is the problem, rather than lack of sleep being merely correlated with some other thing, such as alcohol consumption, which is causing all the problems.) Studies have shown that sleeping too little effectively puts the body on “high alert,” creating increased stress hormones and chemicals associated with inflammation.
That said, what the infographic doesn’t tell is that sleeping too much can be almost as a dangerous as not sleeping enough. If you sleep over nine hours a day, you’re more likely to be fat, diabetic, depressed, and have heart disease. So get eight hours, but no more.