Here’s What Happened When I Slept For An Extra Hour Each Night

This story is part of a 10-piece series for which HuffPost staffers agreed to experiment with improving their health and decreasing their stress on the job. It’s also part of our monthlong “Work Well” initiative focusing on thriving in the workplace.

Getting just one extra hour of sleep each night might sound easy, but actually doing it for a week was far more difficult — and rewarding — than I ever expected.

As both a health journalist and a wellness junkie, I know that getting a good night’s rest is essential to physical and mental health, productivity, mood and well-being. The American Sleep Foundation recommends an average of eight hours per night. But life had recently gotten stressful for me, and sleep was unfortunately the first thing to fall by the wayside.

For the past few months as I’ve been preparing for a book launch (in addition to my demanding day job), I had settled into a nightly routine of six and a half to seven hours of sleep. When I had so much to do, sleeping eight long hours every night (not just on the weekend) seemed like a tall order.

But sleep and stress are a vicious cycle: When I get stressed, it’s difficult to sleep, and when I’m getting less sleep, I’m more stressed out and less able to get things done. Studies have shown that 24 hours of sleep deprivation can significantly raise stress hormone levels, and as little as four hours of sleep loss has been found to increase stress levels as well.

“Stress is to sleep as yin is to yang — opposite forces that are forever linked,” Dr. Chris Winter told The Huffington Post in 2013. “Stress prevents sleep. Sleep deprivation increases stress and its —> Read More