As you may already know, sleep deprivation can make you irritable and put your job at risk. However, it’s a leading cause for many other disorders and can jeopardize your relationships.
The impact on your body of getting insufficient sleep is enormous and long-lasting. If we don’t get around 8 hours of sleep each night – or day, if you’re a shift worker – then we can expect serious health risks and loss of concentration. Sleep deprivation is a leading cause of driving accidents which, of course, will affect not just you, but the innocents around you.
To give you an idea of the ramifications of sleep loss, check out these points:
- Immunity system decay. You’re less equipped to fight off germs if you’re not getting enough sleep. Watch out for frequent colds and tummy bugs as symptoms of impoverished sleep.
- Weight gain. Scientists at King’s College London discovered a correlation between a lack of sleep (under 7 hours) and obesity. The research behind it revealed that the sleep-deprived have higher levels of the hunger-stimulating hormone, ghrelin, and lower levels of the chemical that makes you feel full: leptin.
- Decreased sex drive. Exhaustion will have a huge impact on libido levels for both men and women. They become too tired to even think about sex and prefer a nap to afternoon delights.
- Lowered fertility. Associated with the above point, but additionally, disrupted sleep interferes with the secretion of reproductive hormones. So, if your libido is low and you can’t get pregnant, your nighttime health could be to blame. Men should be careful of sleep apnea which makes it difficult to breath during sleep and leads to a tendency to have lower testosterone levels.
- Poor mental health. Persistent sleep loss can seriously affect your state of mind. This makes sense when you realize that even one night’s sleep loss can put you off balance for the whole day. Imagine the impact if that continues for longer. Depression and anxiety are common in poor sleepers.
- Increased risk of diabetes. Sleep deprivation has been linked to a greater propensity for type 2 diabetes as it alters the way we process glucose.
- Learning difficulties. The brain needs sleep to refresh itself, clean out the subconscious and reboot for the new day. Without sleep we are left with extended learning curves and less ability to contend with change.
- Heart disease. Without sleep our overall heart rate and blood pressure rise. It’s also connected to greater levels of the chemicals associated with inflammation which can cause greater strain on the heart.
The first step to curing sleep deprivation is to invest in a decent bed. Get a cool, supportive and comfortable memory foam mattress that’s big enough to cope with restless sleepers and any intrusive, junior family members. Make sure it’s the right size for stretching out and wriggling, which we do up to 70 times a night. Then, sleep on your back with support under your knees and get the sleep you need to cope with what you must face tomorrow. The second step might be looking to some over the counter sleeping aids which might help.