HOW SLEEP IMPACTS YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE
How much does sleep, or the lack of, really impact our day to day lives? According to research, sleep has a tremendous effect on our health and quality of life.
13 Effects of Sleep Deprivation:
Weight Gain & Obesity – A chronic lack of sleep alters many hormones in the blood that control appetite and weight gain. The hormone cortisol is elevated when our sleep is poor. High cortisol increases cravings for high-fat “comfort” foods. Cortisol causes systemic inflammation which makes you hold onto the weight (as a survival strategy), so it is extremely difficult to lose weight when your inflammation levels are high. When you are deprived of sleep the hormone ghrelin (your appetite-promoting hormone) also increases. Poor sleep can mess with your leptin, which is the satiety hormone that tells you when you’re full. Thus you tend to eat more because your body doesn’t feel the signals of being full. Low levels of sleep also slows your metabolism down.
Increased Risk of Diabetes – A lack of sleep affects your body’s release of insulin. People who don’t get enough sleep have higher blood sugar levels, which adds to weight gain and increase the chances of getting diabetes.
High blood pressure – Your blood pressure is increased with a lack of sleep which also raise the inflammation chemicals in your body, and further leads to all sorts of health ailments.
Kidney Disease – Studies show sleeping five hours or less each night can cause a rapid decline in kidney function. Although it is unclear if you can reverse the damage to your kidneys by sleeping more later in life, the experts are lean toward the idea that you will do permanent damage to your kidneys when you consistently have low sleep.
Migraine Headaches – Not only do you have the brain fog associated with lack of sleep but your chances of getting headaches and particularly migraine headaches, greatly increases.
Muscle Aches & Chronic Pain – People who suffer from chronic pain such as fibromyalgia and low back pain will undergo more pain when they have a sleep deficit. A vicious cycle develops when pain disrupts a person’s sleep. Difficulty sleeping makes the pain worse, which in turn makes sleeping more difficult.
Weaker Immune System - A lack of restorative sleep can also weaken the body’s immune system. Your immune system produces cytokins while you sleep, which are proteins that help protect against infections and inflammation. These proteins are not produced while you are awake.
Poor Balance – A lack of sleep has a direct effect on your balance and coordination. It has the same effect as consuming too much alcohol. Your eyes also get tired and they don’t track together as well as when you are refreshed.
Memory loss – During sleep your brain helps you process and remember information. Lack of sleep can affect both your short and long-term memory.
Emotional Health – A lack of sleep can cause a lot of negative emotions such as being moody, anxious, irritable, and quick-tempered. Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behavior.
Decreased Brain Function – Studies also show that sleep deficiency alters activity in the brain and how you think. If you're short on sleep, you may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behaviors, and coping with change. Studies have found that people who are sleep-deprived are substantially worse at solving logic or math problems than when they're well-rested. You are more likely to make odd mistakes, such as leaving your keys in the fridge by accident.
Overall fatigue - This is a pretty obvious one, but who wants to go through life feeling sluggish, exhausted, and weighed down?
Risk of Injury and Accidents Increases – We tend to be less sharp and more reckless when we do not sleep enough. Our decision-making ability decreases, and our motor skills are not as sharp, which creates the perfect storm for injuries and accidents.
BENEFITS OF GETTING SLEEP
Weight Control - Adequate sleep assists in regulating your hormones and helps keep you lean. Sleep keeps your leptin levels up (signaling that you are full) and your ghrelin levels down (your hunger hormones). Sleep also stabilizes blood sugar, which helps keep the weight down.
Better Health - Sleep strengths our immune system, and lowers inflammation in the body (inflammation causes a host of health issues). Researchers tracked over 150 people and monitored their sleep habits for two weeks. Then they exposed them to a cold virus. Those who got seven hours of sleep a night or less were almost three times as likely to get sick, as the people who got at least eight hours of sleep a night.
Higher pain tolerance – Having a greater threshold for pain is wonderful news, especially people who live with chronic pain. Many studies show a correlation between sleep loss and a low pain threshold. The experts have found that getting good sleep can often supplement medication for pain.
Emotional Health – Your emotional health, positive outlook, and ability to handle stressful or sad times increases when you get plenty of sleep.
Clearer Thinking - Sleep helps your brain work properly. While you're sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day by forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information. A good night's sleep improves problem-solving, learning, helps you pay attention, think clearer, make better decisions, and be more creative.
Better memory - While we sleep, our brains process and consolidate our memories from the day. When you don't get enough sleep, your memories might not get stored correctly and can be lost. Some research suggests that sleep deprivation can also increase our chances of developing false memories.
6 TIPS FOR QUALITY OF SLEEP:
Same schedule – Keeping your sleep and awake times the same each day teaches your body to get into a schedule. Much like how our tummies grumble for food at the noon hour, if you keep your schedule the same, your body will naturally want to go to sleep at your pre-determined hour.
Ditch Electronics & Snacking - Avoid electronics and TV (artificial light may signal to the brain that it’s time to be awake), and food and alcohol for at least an hour or two before you go bed.
Shelf it! - Box up your worries for the day. Write them down if you must and put them out of your mind. Rather than focusing on worries and distracting thoughts, think thoughts of peace and relaxation when your head hits the pillow.
Dark – Darkness helps your body to produce melatonin which allows your body to relax and sleep. Light interferes with the body’s production of melatonin, so keep your room as dark as possible to enjoy the best sleep.
Cool – Keeping your bedroom cool can initiate the sleep process as your body naturally drops in temperature when you fall asleep. Kick start your sleep by starting out in cooler temperatures.
Quiet – If you don’t have the luxury of a quiet sleeping environment, having a fan or a machine that produces white noise can cover over the distracting sounds that can interrupt sleep.
All in all, sleep is very important for our health and wellbeing. Make it a priority, find ways to increase the quality of your sleep, and enjoy the benefits!