How Poor Sleep Affects Your Well-Being
How many times a day do you secretly wish for more hours to get that ever burgeoning to-do list done? Life seems too busy for the 24 hours we are allotted each day and so it can be very tempting to cut back on sleep to make time for all the other aspects of your life. When you don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis, however, you are putting your health and wellbeing at risk. Sleep experts recommend that adults get at least 7 to 9 hours asleep and children 9 to 11 hours. Here are some ways poor sleeps affects your wellbeing:
Sleep and Mood
Probably one of the first things you notice when you are at a sleep deficit is that you become more easily stressed and irritated. All the normal ups and downs in your day seem so much steeper when your sleep tank is low and because you are more snappish, your relationships both personal and work-related will be affected as well.
One study found that even just a little less sleep can have a big impact on mood. People who slept only 4.5 hours a night for a week found themselves more mentally exhausted and exhibiting stronger feelings of anger, sadness and anxiety. And when they went back to their normal sleep schedule, they immediately saw improvements in mood.
Long term sleep deprivation like with chronic insomnia can also lead to a mood disorder like anxiety and depression.
To make things worse, however, stress and anxiety can lead to insomnia causing a vicious cycle between sleep deprivation and mood. For some people, having difficulty sleeping is an early symptom of depression. According to sleep experts, almost 20 percent of patients diagnosed with insomnia will eventually develop major depression.
Sleep and Memory
Not only does poor sleep impact your mood, it also decreases your ability to concentrate and to remember things. During sleep is when your brain is restoring itself and processing the things you had experienced and learned that day. If you interrupt that cycle, then you are not giving your brain the chance to do what it needs to do. You are also more likely have more difficulty concentrating during the day as well when you are fighting the need for sleep and are mentally and physically exhausted.
Sleep and Disease
Poor sleep has also been linked to increased risk for certain medical conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease and obesity. Poor sleep actually affects your body’s insulin resistance and increases inflammation in the body. While studies on the relationship between sleep and the immune systems are still in early stages, findings suggest that sleep deprivation impairs the immune system, making you more susceptible to infection and disease, even the common cold. Some studies have also shown an association between poor sleep and a shorter lifespan.
Why is a good night sleep so important to your health? Well, probably because while you are sleeping is when your cells and tissues have a chance to repair and when your muscles tend to grow. Poor sleep also wreaks havoc on your hormone levels.
Sleep and Quality of Life
The impact sleep has on your life extends even further than this and permeates every aspect of your life. Your relationships will suffer, your ability to be creative will suffer and you are putting your life and the lives of those you love in danger when you get behind the wheel of a car or operate heavy machinery when you are tired. While there are so many things in life that we cannot control like genetics and other people’s actions, we can control what we do ourselves. Knowing the risks associated with poor sleep, how can you continue to ignore your body’s need for sleep? A good night sleep every night is a positive step towards a happier, more positive life.
Getting more ZZZ’s
While there is no way magically to add more hours to your day, there are ways you can ensure that you get enough sleep each night. First, you need to acknowledge that your health and wellbeing are important and should be a priority. Then you need to set a new schedule that allows you to get the needed 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
Here are some tips for carving out more time for a good night’s sleep:
Create a new routine that includes some relaxing habits right before bed.
Take a bubble bath or read or meditate, just stay away from all electronics at least an hour or two before you turn out the lights. Sticking to new habits isn’t easy so try slowly setting back your bedtime a little bit each night over a week until you get to the desired amount.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol right before bed and make sure you are eating healthy and exercising every day.
A sedentary lifestyle coupled with a diet rich in sugar and fat can mess with your body’s ability to sleep as well.
Make your bedroom a special haven for sleep. It is hard to sleep in a room that is a cluttered mess.
It just adds to your stress and anxiety. Keep the atmosphere in the room calm and relaxing by keeping everything put away neatly. Make your comfortable bed the focus of the room.
Consider getting a new mattress.
If you are tossing and turning a lot and that is more the source of your lack of sleep than not enough time, then you should check how old your mattress is. At least every 10 years you should replace your mattress with a new one. When buying a new one, make sure you test a couple of brands out so you can get a proper feel for what will be most comfortable for you.
If you are suffering from chronic insomnia that keeps you up all night even when you go to bed at a decent time, then consider seeing a sleep specialist. There may be a medical condition that is contributing to your sleep deprivation.