Lack of Sleep Can Actually Damage Your IQ

We all know that lack of sleep can affect the way you think, but did you know that disturbed sleep can actually impact your overall IQ by 5% or more?

This worrying information comes from Tara Swart; a neuroscientist, executive coach, and lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

But her research is one of hundreds of reports that show the devastating effects that poor sleep or lack of sleep can impact your mental and physical health.


Sleep and The Brain

According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, around 100,000 road traffic accidents annually are caused by drivers who were fatigued. It’s also known as ‘drowsy driving’.

This staggering statistic just shows us how lack of sleep can disturb our concentration. It can also affect our reaction times and much more.

sleepy driver

Image credit: jawwa via 123RF

Harvard Medical School Associate Professor, Seung-Schik Yoo, even believes that consistent lack of sleep could lead to long term brain damage.

Although these statistics are quite dramatic, fatigue affects almost all of us at some point in our lives. For many, it’s a daily struggle.


Sleep and Work

According to NHS choices, around 200,000 working days are lost every year due to insufficient sleep. With 1 in 3 workers suffering from insomnia.

In addition to this, we’re naturally attuned to be more sleepy at around 2am and 2pm. This means that 9-5 workers tend to be less productive in the afternoon.

asleep at desk

Image credit: ximagination via 123RF 

A study by Hult International Business School also found that less sleep showed a lack of attention and taking longer to complete tasks. This in turn affected overall productivity.


Sleep and The Body

It’s not just the brain that’s affected by lack of sleep, our bodies suffer too. According to NHS Choices, those who sleep less than 6 hours a night have a 13% higher chance of mortality.

Lack of sleep can also make you prone to serious medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

unwell worker

Image credit: racorn via 123RF

Studies show that just one night without proper rest quadruples your risk of catching a cold. Being sleepy also causes us to be more hungry, as our hunger hormone goes up and fullness hormone goes down.

“If we deprived ourselves entirely of sleep we wouldn’t live much longer than if we deprived ourselves of water, and five times quicker than if we stopped eating” – Dr Neil Stanley.


What Should You Do?

If you’re not getting enough sleep then you need to stop and think about what might be affecting it.

If you’re a night owl and like to stay up late, you need to kick your bad routine and replace it with a better one. It will be hard, but you have to push through before you’ll see results.

phone in bed

Image credit: ocusfocus via 123RF

If you’re stuck to a screen all evening then you should consider resting your eyes an hour before bed. This will give your eyes time to adjust for bed and also give you time to do something else, such as read a book or listen to music.

Lastly, avoid caffeinated drinks before bed. As it stays in your system for a long time, you need to think about stopping tea and coffee at dinner time. Replace it with something else, such as a milkshake or hot chocolate.


Feature image credit: Elnur Amikishiyev via 123RF

Leave a Comment