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Sleep studied: Why lack of sleep works against you

I typically go to bed at midnight and wake up at 5:30 a.m., giving myself, for all those math mates out there, five and a half hours of sleep every night. The average and recommended allowance of sleep is seven hours. Something seems like it is ready to give.
And typically, that "give" comes in the form of yawning throughout the day, mostly in the morning as I peel myself out of bed or around the mid afternoon that I almost fall asleep again in my lap (or laptop).
So the question is simple: why not just get more sleep? That seems easy enough, but often times work, play and everything in between gets in the way, and those five and a half hours never seem to be able to creep up to seven or even six for that matter.
But the lack of sleep you're in the midst of experiencing is no joke, and for that matter can do more than just make you feel sleepy all day. In fact, it can cause serious health issues over time, including just feeling stressed and wiped out all day.
Think about the pending cold and flu season on the horizon. Did you know not getting enough sleep can affect your immune system to the point that lacking sleep can make your body more prone to getting sick and harder to get well. That is particularly pertinent information for those who suffer from auto immune diseases, which already put you behind the proverbial eight ball as far as getting sick and having it turn into something more serious.

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In addition to getting sick, your brain also suffers some serious consequences as well, most notably not being able to concentrate on your work at hand but more so being foggy when it comes to making decisions. What is more nightmarish than falling asleep in the middle of a meeting or while someone very important is speaking and you're nodding off in the middle of it?
And who hasn't been overly tired to the point that they'll try anything to stay awake, including eating or snacking for no reason? The thinking is that eating is going to prevail and keep you from falling asleep because you're busy moving your mouth as a result. People who lack sleep tend to overeat and their metabolism come to a crawl, thus adding weight gain to the list of things that happen due to missing serious shut eye time.

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