If you're barely getting 6 hours a night -- all lots of people manage -- just sleeping one more hour makes a big difference, because not getting that much increases your high blood pressure risk by a huge 37%. Why? When you don't get enough sleep, your nervous system goes into overdrive, boosting your stress hormones and throwing your whole body into high gear. Your pupils dilate, your heart rate speeds up, your digestion slows, and -- worse -- not only does your blood pressure spike but, over time, those stress hormones turn temporary spikes into permanent high blood pressure.
Think you can make up for missed ZZZs by sleeping in on the weekends? Sleep debt isn't easy to pay off. People who get just 6 hours on week nights, then crash for 10 hours on both Saturdays and Sundays, still show strong signs of sleep deprivation. You don't just feel groggy. Chronic lack of sleep is linked to everything from inflammation and depression to obesity. Lack of shut-eye throws your appetite hormones into a gimme-more mode, and affects blood sugar levels in ways that up the odds of big weight gains. Go to bed early tonight.