LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) - It's something we all do, but most of us don't do enough: sleep. Rest is crucial to keep your body running properly, but even just a few nights of sleeplessness can take a toll on your health.
It's a reality for a lot of Americans: learning to function on way less than the recommended hours of sleep. But it's not just about whether you can keep your eyes open throughout the day… a lack of sleep can actually change the way your body works.
A new study reveals even just a few nights of poor sleep impact your body's ability to repair and replace new cells. And over time that could lead to some serious health issues.
"It can affect your heart. The reason you sleep is to kind of repair yourself after a hard day. I got in a couple car accidents because I was falling asleep at the wheel," said Paul Koerner of Longmeadow.
Sleep deprivation affects the immune system and how the body responds to stress -- the stress that keeps many people up in the first place.
"Thinking about things probably what wakes me up in the middle of the night. Like 3AM. That's the time I get up," said Annie Hodges of Longmeadow.
One man told 22News he goes to bed late and wakes up early… and it's simply because he doesn't want to sleep his life away.
"On the weekend I play golf. That's my morning I get up there's a coffee shop open early. I'm there at 515, have coffee, read the paper. Take my time, go to the golf course. Life is good," said Norman McDuff.
McDuff said he knows he should get more sleep, but can't help but think there's plenty of time for that later.
"When you're dead you'll sleep for a long time," he added.
Lack of sleep puts you at risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity and lower brain function.