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Your Brain When You Wake Up Early

By Christian Roemer

If you’re a parent, you know that you’ll basically get no sleep on Christmas Eve. First, you’ll have to patiently get your children to fall asleep, even though they’re going to be hopped up on impending Christmas morning adrenaline.

Second, once you finally convince them to stay in bed, you’re going to have to set up all of the gifts and stockings. Lastly, on Christmas morning, your exuberant little ones are going to be chomping at the bit to see their Christmas bounty. That means you might make it to 6:00 AM if you’re lucky.

That also means you’re likely in for a very groggy December 25th.

Even though it’s totally worth it, because your kids’ excitement and happiness is basically unparalleled, the truth is, missing sleep isn’t very good for you. In fact, there are a few ways that waking up early and missing sleep is really bad for you.

So what’s really going on?

Even though sleep might seem like a waste of time, it’s actually one of the most important things we do for our health. In fact, loss of sleep is a full fledged pandemic. To understand why, we have to attack the problem from a few angles.

First of all, sleep is when your brain repairs itself, stores and files away memories, and your body gets the recuperation that it needs. Sleep also helps regulate your mood, REM sleep helps you retain knowledge, and getting your 8 hours reduces bodily inflammation.

That means, when you lose sleep, you’re literally killing your brain and body. Researchers have found that losing too much sleep actually destroys brain cells, can lead to mood swings and depression, and can make your body more susceptible to getting sick. On top of all of that, you’ll get bags under your eyes. The horror!

So what do you do about it?

The good news--for both your sleep and wallet--is that Christmas only comes around once a year. Losing a little bit of sleep for one night won’t really move the needle too much as far as your overall health is concerned. It’s not entirely clear how much sleep you have to miss for your immune system to take a hit, but I always ascribe to the “better safe than sorry” approach.

Christmas is a fun and magical time, where kids are on top of the world, and parents can live vicariously through their innocence. Even though you’ll probably lose a little bit of sleep on Christmas Eve, the long term ramifications are basically non-existent. So enjoy every minute with your little ones while you can. Making memories with those you love most is the reason for the season after all.

Just don’t make a habit out of waking up too early and losing too much sleep. On a lighter note, if you go to bed early and give your brain at least 8 hours of sleep, waking up early isn't too bad!

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