Although the average person should be getting between 8-10 hours of sleep each night, most people in today’s busy society are getting fewer than 7. Millions of Americans experience sleep disorders like sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless leg syndrome that keep them tossing and turning throughout the night. Others can’t seem to put down the bright screens – like cell phones, tablets, laptops, and televisions – that cause them to lose out on quality sleep.
While most people know they don’t want to walk around feeling exhausted every day, they don’t know that exhaustion isn’t the only affect that sleep deprivation has on their bodies. Losing out on sleep not only makes you feel tired, but can also contribute to higher blood pressure, weight gain, mood swings, depression, a weak immune system, and a higher risk of diabetes, stroke, dementia, and certain cancers. Furthermore, lack of sleep contributes to more car crashes and other occupational errors that can cause life-threatening injuries.
Next time you want to stay up late binge watching your favorite Netflix show, consider these top 5 detrimental affects that lack of sleep has on your health:
- Impaired Reflexes
Research has shown that prolonged lack of sleep can make you function as though you’ve been impaired by alcohol. Even one poor night’s sleep can weaken your reflexes, and losing sleep on a long-term basis can impair your judgment. Poor reflexes make it dangerous for people to be behind the wheel and can make them more prone to experiencing occupation-related accidents.
- Poor Focus
Getting good sleep is important for your brain – it allows it time to process the information it’s gained from the previous day and establish important memories, both of which will contribute to a sharp mind the next day. When you lose out on sleep, your brain doesn’t get to do this important work, which can contribute to poor focus and lack of attention. Furthermore, as your brain tries to deal with the stress of fatigue, you may develop mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
- No Recovery Time
The body needs good quality sleep – a full cycle’s worth – to distribute the hormones required for repairing DNA cells and supporting brain and body tissue. This is especially important for young children and teenagers whose bodies are still developing, and unfortunately, teenagers are the least likely group to get the rest that they need. When the body doesn’t get the recovery time that it needs, people can experience negative side effects. Many people who lose out on sleep experience obesity and migraines, turn to substance abuse, stop exercising, and end up feeling depressed and suicidal.
- Weight Gain
The less you sleep at night, the more you’ll be hungry during the day, and not necessarily for the right kinds of foods. Studies have shown a clear connection between sleep and the hormones that are responsible for regulating your appetite. The peptide Gherlin is what makes you feel hungry, and when you lose out on sleep, Gherlin is elevated in your body. Proper sleep also helps to control your blood sugar levels and regulate your metabolism.
- A Shorter Lifespan
Unfortunately, getting poor sleep on a long-term regular basis can ultimately increase your risk of death. Those who don’t sleep enough can have an increased risk of diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, all of which decrease your lifespan.
Changing your sleep habits is crucial for your health, and may even increase your lifespan. Try sleeping in cooler temperatures, and avoid watching TV or doing work in your bed, as it’s important to signal your brain that it’s time to rest. Furthermore, it’s best to get rid of all bright lights, including those from televisions, cell phones, tablets, and laptops. Maybe even try blackout curtains or eyeshades to make sure the room is as dark as possible. White noise machines and earplugs can help to reduce disruptive sounds. The best thing you can do for your sleep schedule is to develop a routine and stick to it.