Give it a REST!
So you've heard of a sleep debt. You know that not getting enough sleep effects your body and your concentration, and that when you don't get enough sleep, you accumulate hours of sleep that you need to make up before your body feels rested and functions as such. But did you know that not getting enough sleep can cause you to spend more money than other people and not make as much?
People who don't get enough sleep spend more money in several ways. First of all, they pay, on average, $4220 more than good sleepers in medical costs. This includes both the costs of investigating and treating causes of insomnia, like sleep apnea , and treating ailments and diseases that non-sleepers catch because their immune systems are weaker than those of good sleepers. But over $4000? That's a good chunk of a car, or a year of college tuition at some universities, or a huge chunk of an emergency or savings fund! Granted, most people who can't catch up on their sleep don't pay this all at once, but that sounds like a constant drag on the finances.
But people who can't sleep also shell out money on things that, hopefully, will help them sleep. Even if you're not an insomniac, if you've ever had a night where you lay in bed, unable to sleep, with your mind churning through every aspect of your life, then you know that there would be little you wouldn't do (and few prices you wouldn't pay!) to make it stop, particularly if it happens often. Apparently, there's a whole "sleep industry" out there, full of companies who have realized that people will pay through the teeth to sleep better.
Who makes up this industry? The drug companies, for one. It's projected that Americans will spend $4.3 billion a year on sleep medications by the year 2010. On top of that, DVD companies offer "workout" videos that promise sleep (Sleep yoga DVD: $24.95), office supply companies cash in on people who buy white-noise machines (Marpac 980 SleepMate White Noise Machine: $56.95), and mattress companies charge more every year for new mattresses that promise better sleep through comfort. (See MSN Money). Basically, anyone who can cash in on the money of the sleepless will try it! It's crazy and, while it works for these companies, it doesn't work for us! Just start to imagine the other places this money could go, and it's amazing what springs to mind.
Not Making as Much
On top of all that we spend, we make less money when we don't sleep enough. Because lowered concentration, higher anxiety, and a reduced ability to deal with stress come with racking up a sleep debt, productivity is drastically reduced in people who don't get enough sleep. People don't test as well (even on fairly simple exams), and they are less creative when they haven't slept. Both of these combine to mean that the sleep-deprived can't solve problems or deal with unexpected issues that come up on the job as well as those who have slept. So it's harder to make a sale to a difficult client, promote yourself when they ask a question you didn't expect at a review or an interview, or create the layout that wows the department. Thus, the sleepless lose out on big clients, big cases, and even simple promotions.
Additionally, because people who don't get enough sleep tend to have weakened immune systems and get sick more often, they are at the doctor, and even hostpitalized, more than those who do sleep well. Thus, they spend less time actually at their workplace, performing tasks, than those who sleep enough. So they make less money, take fewer vacations, and put themselves in a position to sleep even less, thus putting themselves in an unending circle of not sleeping enough and not having as much money as they could.
What do we do?
This is so well-documented on the web that I'd feel silly going into it again here. So try WikiHow's excellent page on falling asleep, or breastcancer.org's tricks to help cancer victims and their families sleep better (oddly enough, this is one of the best sites, offering some of the most unusual tips, that I've found). If you try the suggestions that make sense to you and still can't sleep, go to a doctor. There are legitimate health problems that disrupt sleep, and you may find a cure though medical treatment.
But whatever you do, dude, get some sleep.
Awesome photo by Tom@HK