It probably won’t come as a surprise that waking up on the right side of the bed is deeply tied to getting enough sleep. And while we don’t recommend reminding this to snooty waiters or taxi drivers, the world might just be a little rosier if everyone just got an extra REM cycle per night.
If you’re reading this, it’s either because you aren’t getting the sleep need and you’re pretty peeved about it, or because you have come to realize your day could be a bit more enjoyable if only you were able to get a bit more sleep.
Regardless of whether you look forward to crawling into bed and getting that precious sleep after the daily grind or you do so reluctantly, getting enough sleep is crucial for your body and mind. Both you and those around you can tell when you haven’t had enough sleep.
Sufficient sleep can affect our entire outlook on the world that we live and the way we experience it.
In one study, participants that were only allowed to sleep 4.5 hours each night for a week felt more mentally drained, angry, and stressed out. When they were allowed to return to a normal sleep schedule, participants reported feeling back to normal.
Why are we talking about mood here? Your mood can be an early warning sign of your mental and physical health. Maintaining an awareness of your mood and the quality of your sleep can help to keep you healthy and resilient. Everyday life can get more stressful and anxiety-inducing when your sleep falls by the wayside, and your health can suffer as a result.
Lack of sleep and your health
Most people need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night.
You can have a few sleepless nights without having a huge impact on your health. However, when you are consistently not getting your recommended amount of sleep, you will start to see your mental, physical, and emotional health decline.
Initially, you will notice that your mood has shifted. You might catch yourself feeling or acting out impatience in ways you might not otherwise with rest.
Long-term sleep deprivation can lead to accidents and serious injury to yourself or others. In fact, driving while tired has been proven to be just as dangerous as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Aside from mood, sleep deprivation has been medically proven to broadly affect your physical and mental health, from your capacity to break down fats to your body’s ability to regulate toxins in the blood.
Lack of sleep effects
Sleep loss has been directly linked to numerous mental and physical issues.
Sufficient sleep resets and rebalances negative emotions. In particular, the REM sleep stage of the sleep cycle has been shown to be responsible for regulating your emotions and supporting a positive mood.
Poor sleep quality can also cause you to gain weight and weaken your immune system. It increases your risk of heart disease and can increase your blood pressure. It’s important that you make your health a priority by improving your sleep. It has even been linked to mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Overall, sleep is crucially important to your body, and you can see the negative effects of sleep deprivation manifest through many areas of your daily life.
Symptoms of lack of sleep
If you’re struggling to get the right amount of sleep, you could find yourself suffering from the negative effects of sleep deprivation. Some of these include:
- Issues with memory: When you’re asleep, your brain consolidates memories and regulates brain activity. Without this vital processing, you could have issues forming new memories while you’re awake. This can affect learning as well as short and long-term memory.
- Negative mood: You can be more emotional, have a shorter temper and be moodier without adequate sleep. You could also suffer from anxiety or depression from lack of adequate REM sleep.
- Lowered immune system: When you don’t get enough sleep, your immune system can’t help your body fight off sickness.
- Increased risk for diabetes: The blood sugar in your body is affected when you don’t get enough sleep. Insulin isn’t released in the right way, so you have a risk of higher blood sugar as well as type 2 diabetes.
- Trouble concentrating: One of the first signs of sleep deprivation is a foggy head. If your brain doesn’t get the proper amount of rest, you won’t be able to focus the next day. This can also affect your problem-solving skills and creativity.
- Accidents: Your brain doesn’t respond as quickly or accurately when you haven’t had enough rest. Slower reaction times vastly increase your chance of car accidents and work-related errors.
- Low sex drive: Another issue with poor sleep quality is a lowered sex drive. This is due to a disruption in the production of libido-related hormones.
- High blood pressure: Those that sleep less than five hours per night over an extended period of time are at an increased risk for high blood pressure. Over time this can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.
- Weight gain: Insufficient sleep has been shown to lead to higher caloric intake. It also makes it more difficult for your body to efficiently metabolize fats and sugars.
- Reduced coordination: It’s easy to hurt yourself when you are sleep deprived because your balance is off. You are generally more prone to falling and physically hurting yourself.
Common causes of sleep deprivation
If you are suffering from sleep deprivation, your first goal is getting to the root of the problem. Sleep is one of the most important aspects of your life, and you need to make sure you’re doing everything you can to get the proper amount of sleep. Some of the reasons you could be suffering from sleep deprivation are:
- Too much caffeine
- Not having a proper sleep routine
- Eating or drinking too late
- Not having consistent times of sleeping and waking up
- Having too much light in your bedroom
- Sleeping with the thermostat too high
These are some of the many reasons that your sleep could be suffering. If you find you aren’t able to get a good night’s sleep despite ample time and opportunity to do so, be sure to consult a medical professional. Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can be ruled out or treated to improve sleep quality.
With that said, practicing proper sleep hygiene is the best way to combat a poor sleep schedule. You could also journal about your sleep habits, so you can keep track of any issues.
How to feel better
Don’t be a victim of moodiness and sleepiness. We’ve put together a bunch of ways here to improve your sleep outcomes and to improve the quality and quantity of sleep. A good place to start is with a solid sleep routine. If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night, check out this article on sleep hygiene, or this one on sleep remedies, which look at ways to optimize your sleep performance and experience.