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By Makenzie Marineau on February 17th, 2010

Did you miss your appointment again? Forget that big homework assignment that's due today at home? Fall asleep at work this week... twice? Impaired memories, difficulty learning, slowed reaction time, crabby mood, and a slowed thought process are all impacts of not getting enough sleep at night.

According to the National Sleep Foundation's Sleep in America poll, 20% of Americans sleep less than 6 hours a night, and on average Americans are getting 6 hours and 40 minutes of sleep a night. To be fully rested and get the full benefits from sleep we are suppose to be getting 7 to 8 hours a night. After recently reading an article from Glamour Magazine on their quest for sleep, I realized that more people than not are affected by lack of sleep, and this includes me! I think my brain is telling me something when I sleep through my alarm; it's not fully rested. 

Lack of sleep also has the same effects on your brain as aging. According to Todd Maddox, a psychology professor at the Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Texas, "the brain regions that are impaired when you are sleep-deprived are the same ones that are impaired with aging." I don't need any more help aging my brain, thank you very much.

In today's fast-paced world we all have something keeping us awake once in a while--whether that is stress and burnout, work, social events, economic concerns, TV, kids, or our computers staring us in the face. It's a common mistake to associate sleep with being lazy, but in truth too little sleep can cause you to be lazy and less productive.  

What usually keeps me going is coffee, and 6 in 10 people (59%) say they are at least somewhat likely to use caffeinated beverages to carry them through the day too, according to the National Sleep Foundation. But the simple (and most likely healthier) solution is simple: sleep more.

I have decided to take on Glamour's Sleep Challenge and aim for at least 8 hours of sleep per night. I know it will be a challenge, but I would rather be fully productive at work and school rather than stumbling along at half speed. Not only will I benefit from this challenge, but my grades will too.