se familiar symptoms that haunt you the following morning: crankiness, fatigue, excessive yawning, and the inability to focus. Grabbing that extra cup of coffee may help a little, bit only for a short period of time. When that caffeine crash starts, you will probably feel worse than before you tried to jolt yourself awake.
Losing sleep and depriving yourself of a few essential hours once in a while will leave you feeling crummy, but if this becomes a habit and you find yourself getting 6 hours or less sleep per night, you are putting your health at risk. Many potential issues arise from lack of sleep, and some of them may surprise you.
An obvious symptom of sleep deprivation is not being about to focus. Your creativity, concentration, and problem solving skills are not going to be what they normally would be if you had gotten enough sleep. Aside from this, not snoozing will also affect your long and short term memory. A tired brain cannot form these connections. Also, drowsiness and that foggy feeling will put you at risk for accidents, especially car accidents. Driving while drowsy is just as unsafe as driving while intoxicated. If you missed out on a few essential hours of sleep, avoid driving and operating machinery. Taking the bus? Watch your step, because not enough sleep will affect your brain and body’s coordination, throwing you off balance. This too puts you at higher risk for slips, falls, and other physical injuries.
It’s normal to feel a little crabby and not as patient as you normally would if you slept last night, but chronic sleep deprivation can not only affect your mood, it can also lead to depression and anxiety. Feeling more emotional and quick-tempered is just the tip of the ice berg; you don’t want your lack of sleep to lead to these more extreme issues. Aside from grouchiness, less than 5 hours a sleep per night can lead to high blood pressure. Increased blood pressure and increased inflammation, another side affect of sleep deprivation, puts you at risk for developing heart disease as well.
A less obvious symptom from little sleep but one that makes a ton of sense is your weakened immune system. Sleeping is your body’s way of slowing down and recharging, and if you push to hard without this vital rest time, your body’s defense system against germs becomes weak. If you can’t hit the hay early enough, the chances of you getting sick are much higher than someone who is getting a solid 8 hours of sleep.
Does your family have a history of diabetes? Even without that gene, did you know sleep deprivation affects your body’s ability to release insulin? Insulin is responsible for controlling the sugar in your blood, and people who don’t sleep tend to have higher blood sugar levels, which will lead to Type 2 Diabetes.
Not feeling sexy? It’s probably because you didn’t get enough sleep. No rest leads to a lower libido, and for men especially, no sleep can cause a decrease in testosterone levels.
Lastly, the issue you have most likely heard of when it comes to lack of sleep is weight gain. This happens because the chemicals in your brain are off balance, so you are more likely to overindulge and eat larger portions because your brain will not signal your digestive system that you’ve had enough. Stress and lack of sleep will lead to weight gain partially around your midsection. If you are dedicated to your exercise regimen and you devote yourself to a healthy lifestyle, don’t undo it by sleeping less than 6 hours a night, and when possible, try for at least 8 hours of sleep. If you have time throughout the day, a 20-30 minutes nap can help you recharge and refocus. Listen to your body; if you’re feeling tired then you need more sleep! Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?
Try these techniques repeatedly and train your body to respond to them. Eventually they will form into habits and sleep will come naturally.
- Don’t consume a large meal before bed. Your last meal of the day should be 3-4 hours before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine and foods high in sugar. Decaffeinated tea like Chammomile can help calm your body and mind and will ease tension, making it easier to fall asleep.
- Don’t drink too many liquids before bed. This will help prevent the urge to get up in the middle of the night for a bathroom break.
- Get in bed at the same time every night. Following a routine will teach your body and brain that it’s time to turn off and rest. If your mind is racing, try taking some deep slow breaths. Pay attention to your heart and physical self by closing your eyes, lying still, and picturing each muscle in your body melting into your mattress. Think of a calming place where you feel safe and focus on the air coming into your nose and out through your mouth. Resist the urge to stare at the ceiling, pace around the house, and think about all your unfinished projects and bills you didn’t pay yet.
- Put away your smartphone, tablet, and computer. Turn off the tv too. The light that radiates from your Instagram has been scientifically proven to switch your brain on, making it much harder to fall asleep. Turn off all electronics and keep them away from your bed. If music soothes you, you can put on a calming instrumental soundtrack to help you relax. Some people also react well to white noise or rain. Download and Spotify or ITunes and search for meditative, nature sounds, or yoga music.
- Keep your room cool and dark. The temperature in your bedroom should be around 65-68 degrees.
-Buy an Aloe Vera plant. Keeping this succulent in your room will purify the air and help you avoid inhaling toxins. Some other air purifying plants that are great for detoxifying your home include the Garden Mum, Spider plants, Peace lilies, Ficus trees/weeping figs, Dracaena plants, and Boston Ferns.
- Invite your dog into bed with you. Yes I know some of you have strict rules about Fido sleeping in his own bed, but sharing a bed with your dog can be extremely beneficial for you and your canine. Sleeping with your dog will provide feelings of warmth, comfort, and security for both of you, and this bond with your best friend can help ease tension, anxiety, and can alleviate depression. So snuggle up; it’s great for your pooch too!
- Exercise. Going for a walk throughout the day at the very least will help you expend some energy and can affect your sleep at night. Give it a try!