The Surprising Ways Sleep Deprivation is Harming Your Health

Whether it’s Netflix, kids or stress, we’ve all been guilty of staying up too late. On the odd occasion this isn’t a problem, but when getting by on less sleep becomes the norm you start running into issues.

And I don’t just mean dozing off during the weekly staff meeting at work. Here’s why it’s crucial that you are getting enough sleep.

The health benefits of sleep cannot be overstated. Along with making you feel better (obviously), a good night’s rest can benefit your heart, weight, mind and more. Unfortunately, we live in an alway-on world that views getting by on less sleep as an achievement rather than a problem.

Articles explaining how to get by on less sleep are ubiquitous across the web. But sleep hacking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Researchers at Amerisleep scoured academic journals and CDC data to examine how sleep deprivation affects Americans.

What they found is that the states associated with the highest level of obesity, the highest prevalence of diabetes and the lowest life expectancy were all sleep-deprived. The data doesn’t lie: your good health literally rests on the amount of shut eye you get.

Sleep and Health Go Hand-in-Hand

Lack of sleep can cause unwanted weight gain. According to Charles Samuels, MD, medical director of the Centre for Sleep and Human Performance in Calgary, Alberta, lack of sleep changes your appetite

“If you shorten or disturb sleep, you increase your appetite for high-calorie dense foods,” says Samuels.

Sleep is also essential for a healthy heart. It doesn’t matter how old you are, how much you weigh or whether or not you smoke, if you don’t sleep enough your risk for cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease increases.

Then there’s the link between a lack of sleep and type 2 diabetes. When you’re sleep deprived your hormones are thrown off-kilter. Insulin production goes down and cortisol levels rise, leaving you with too much glucose in the bloodstream.

How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Fortunately, all of these health risks are easy to avoid. The first step is knowing how much sleep you need. Eight hours is a good yardstick, but it’s different for everyone. If you’re tired all the time, chances are you’re not getting enough sleep.

However, it could also be that you’re not drinking enough water, not exercising enough or that you’re skipping breakfast. Take note of how well rested you feel in the morning and then compare it with what you did the day before. You’ll soon see a correlation between your sleep patterns and your behavior.

Improving your sleep habits is key if you want to stay healthy. Try going to bed and waking up at a similar time each day. Avoid caffeine in the evenings and resist the urge to use technology in the bedroom.

Better yet, opt for a digital sunset. It’s been scientifically proven that two hours of screen time before bed causes a 22 percent drop in the vital sleep hormone melatonin.

But what do you do when getting sleep isn’t an option? If you’re a new parent, for example, sleep quickly becomes something other people enjoy. Thankfully, babies do eventually learn to sleep through, but until that happens there are a few ways around the problem.

You could try taking a power nap or doing yoga nidra. Even lying in savasana (corpse pose) for three to 15 minutes at a time can make all the difference. In the short term these ‘sleep fixes’ are fine, but ultimately there’s no getting around it.

A regular sleep schedule benefits your health. So, rather than skimping on your shut eye, do yourself a favor and look for other ways to be more productive. Your body will thank you.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

63 comments

Marie W
Marie W6 months ago

Thank you.

SEND
Margie FOURIE
Margie FOURIE11 months ago

I do need sleep now, my animals woke me up after 4 hours sleep.

SEND
Carl R
Carl R11 months ago

Thanks!!

SEND
One Heart i
One Heart inc11 months ago

Thanks!!

SEND
Chad A
Chad Anderson11 months ago

Not so surprising...

SEND
Olga Nycz-Shirley
Olga Nycz-Shirely11 months ago

TY for some interesting points.

SEND
Stephanie s
Stephanie Y11 months ago

Thank you

SEND
Winn A
Winn A11 months ago

Noted

SEND
Winn A
Winn A11 months ago

Petition Signed

SEND
Leo C
Leo C11 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

SEND