Sleep loss resulted in negative emotions such as anger, nervousness, loneliness, irritability and frustration. Physical symptoms surfaced, too, including upper respiratory issues, aches and gastrointestinal problems.
These mental and physical issues remained elevated until participants had a night’s sleep of more than six hours, according to the study.
The largest increase in symptoms occurred after just one night of sleep loss and steadily got worse until day three, said Lee.
After that point, the body gets relatively used to repeated sleep loss, Lee said. But on day six, sleep-deprived participants reported that the severity of their physical symptoms was at its worst.
Previous research by Lee found that losing just 16 minutes of sleep can harm job performance. Lee’s work also showed that minor sleep loss can decrease daily mindfulness, which is critical for managing stress and maintaining healthy routines.
About one-third of U.S. adults sleep less than six hours a night. If that becomes a habit, it’s increasingly difficult for your body to fully recover from lack of sleep, according to Lee.
The findings were reported July 5 in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a guide to healthy sleep.
SOURCE: University of South Florida, news release, July 6, 2021