When you’re talking about things that your body really needs to survive, most people automatically think about things like water and food. Most people don’t include sleep in that equation. This is interesting because it’s every bit as important as getting enough water or food. While it’s true that you can go longer without sleep than you can without water, you might be surprised to know that when it comes down to sleep or food, your body needs sleep the most. If you really must choose between the two, food can wait.
The Importance of Good Sleep
Most people that struggle with getting the sleep they need certainly wouldn’t argue that it’s one of the most important things in the world. There’s nothing worse than trying to struggle through your day when it feels like you can barely put one foot in front of the other. A lack of sleep can make your body ache and make your muscles feel sore and stiff. If that’s not bad enough, it’s common to feel like your legs are made of concrete because they’re so heavy.
This is your body’s way of telling you that you need to back off a little and get more rest. If you think the problems with too little sleep stop with your physical body, think again. When you don’t get the sleep you need, it’s virtually impossible for you to concentrate in a normal fashion. You might think you’re doing okay, but you probably don’t realize how many mistakes you’re making.
Depending on what you’re doing, those mistakes might be relatively minor, or they could be life-altering. Imagine driving your car and failing to stop at a red light because you’re so sleep-deprived you didn’t even notice it. This happens on a daily basis, all because people aren’t getting the sleep they need.
How Long Can You Really Go Without Sleep?
Every person has their own threshold where they simply can’t go any longer without getting some sleep. However, there are some guidelines that you should be following if you really want to be at your best physically and mentally. People need to sleep every single day. You might have stayed up all night to cram for a test in college and then breeze through the next day’s classes without a problem, but that becomes more difficult to do with the passage of time.
It’s imperative that you get somewhere between six to eight hours of sleep each night. Anything less means you’re sleep deprived. Some people do very well on just six or seven hours of sleep, and others need the full eight hours and maybe even a little more. It’s interesting to note that if you go more than three full days without sleep, you start to hallucinate, seeing and hearing things that aren’t really there.
Conversely, you can go three days without food without experiencing any significant problems unless you have issues with your blood sugar. You might feel hungry, and you might even get irritable, but it won’t be nearly as detrimental to your body as going that same amount of time without sleep.
Putting it All Together
Most people find it interesting to note that in a country where so much attention is devoted to sleep, the overwhelming majority of the public still can’t get enough of it. There is no doubt that your body needs water more than it needs anything else but right next to that, sleep runs a strong second. Otherwise, your body will eventually force you to shut down, and when it happens, it won’t be pretty. That’s why it’s so important that you find out what’s causing you to have sleep problems in the first place. It’s only then that you can successfully address those issues and get the sleep you need. If you need different bed sheets or you need to remove the television from the bedroom entirely, do it.
Your body simply can’t operate without sleep. There’s only so much you can do if you’re not getting the rest you need. It doesn’t matter how much determination you have, the amount of willpower you use or even how stubborn you are. If you’re not getting the sleep you need, you’re not going to be at your best, and you could be doing physical damage to your body, as well as to your mental and emotional health. When you consider how important sleep is and how much damage can be done to the body without it, it just isn’t worth the risk.