Sleeping is one of the biggest struggles in our daily routine. The CDC reported that one in every three people slept less than seven hours nightly. Over the years, studies have shown six hours of sleep can be detrimental to your health.

Slower response

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center wanted to discover the mental effects of sleep deprivation. They split 48 individuals into four groups. Three groups were asked to, respectively, sleep 8, 6, or 4 hours a day for two weeks. One group had to go three days without sleep. Individuals with six or fewer hours of sleep were just as tired as the sleepless ones. They also experienced delayed cognitive abilities. “Routine nightly sleep for fewer than six hours results in cognitive performance deficits, even if we feel we have adapted to it. This work demonstrates the importance of sleep as a necessity for health and well-being. Even relatively moderate sleep restriction, if it is sustained night after night, can seriously impair our neurobiological functioning,” researcher Hans P.A. Van Dongen, Ph.D. said in the study.

Leaves you feeling dehydrated

A study from Penn State revealed six hours of sleep can lead to dehydration. 20,000 people from the United States and China were surveyed about their sleep behavior. Following the survey, they submitted a urine sample to test for possible dehydration. Researchers found that people with six hours of sleep had more concentrated urine in their system. A factor in this is the hormone vasopressin, which helps stabilize hydration in the body. “Vasopressin is released both more quickly and later on in the sleep cycle. So, if you’re waking up earlier, you might miss that window in which more of the hormone is released, causing a disruption in the body’s hydration,” lead author Asher Rosinger said in the study.

Affects your heart

Six hours of sleep can also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. The American College of Cardiology uncovered this through a study of their own. 3,974 bank employees from Spain were divided into four groups based on their sleep patterns. For one week, all participants wore an actigraph, which measures their sleep activity. Afterward, they were tested for heart disease through ultrasound and CT scans. People with six or fewer hours of sleep had a 34 percent higher risk for atherosclerosis. This disease increases the amount of fat found on your artery walls. “Cardiovascular disease is a major global problem, and we are preventing and treating it using several approaches, including pharmaceuticals, physical activity, and diet. But this study emphasizes we have to include sleep as one of the weapons we use to fight heart disease — a factor we are compromising every day,” researcher José M. Ordovás said in the study.

Individuals that drank alcohol were subjected to unpleasant sleep patterns. “Many people think alcohol is a good inducer of sleep, but there’s a rebound effect. If you drink alcohol, you may wake up after a short period of sleep and have a hard time getting back to sleep. And if you do get back to sleep, it’s often a poor quality sleep,” Ordovás stated in the study.

It can be treated

Gaining proper sleep is an issue, but there are steps to fix it. If you’re an avid drinker of coffee and/or soda, stop drinking four hours before sleep. Having stimulants in your system can keep you awake. If you’re normally stressed out before bed, find ways to reduce it. You could write your feelings in a journal or listen to some calming music. With more sleep, your body will perform at a higher level. You’ll have greater protection from illnesses and stronger cognitive abilities. More importantly, you’ll feel a lot better about yourself.