What chronic lack of sleep can cause to our overall health?
It’s been estimated that an average person spends a third of their life sleeping. Surprised? Don’t be: sleep plays a major role in healing, recovery, and recharge of both the body and the nervous system; as such, a decent nightly shuteye is integral to lasting health. Unfortunately, sleep is the first aspect of a healthy lifestyle that flies out the window when stress goes up a notch or work agenda takes a twist for the busier. And while an odd sleepless night won’t kill you, chronic lack of sleep can claim a hefty toll on your long-term wellbeing, emotional health, and brain function.
In case you have a habit of burning the candle at both ends, you may want to check out the effects of sleep deprivation on your organism listed below and take steps to improve your sleep quality and prevent large-scale damage before it’s too late.
The High Health Cost of Sleep Deprivation
Chronic lack of sleep won’t just chip off chunks of your physical and mental health: according to Harvard Medical School, getting too few Zzzs every night can shave your lifespan and increase the risk of mortality by as many as 15%. In addition to that, sleep deprivation can compromise almost every aspect of your wellbeing and contribute to a range of chronic conditions that will take more time to remedy than a simple bedtime routine tweak.
Here are only a few effects of lack of sleep to help you get a better idea of the extent of damage you can cause to your body by not allowing it to rest properly.
Immune System Dips
Unless you allow your body sufficient time to rest and recover, the immune system will be the first to suffer. Fewer than five or six hours of nighttime rest will increase your organism’s sensitivity to viruses and bacterial infections, which may leave you bed-locked and fever-ridden for days.
Anxiety and Depression
Mood swings are another telltale sign that you’re not getting enough sleep. Unless you take the steps to improve the quality of your nightly rest, mood oscillations can evolve into depression, anxiety, and memory problems.
Cognitive Function Issues
Sleep allows neurons in your brain to rest and replenish, so if you’re cutting your Zzzs short, your cognitive function may suffer. Apart from fatigue-induced focus dips, chronic lack of sleep can contribute to the development of memory problems, brain fog, and even hallucinations.
Diabetes and Weight Gain
If denied sufficient time to replenish through sleep, your brain will signal to your body that it needs more easily digestible fuel, which is a shortcut to weight gain and onset of diabetes type 2, both of which can lead to a host of other health complications and trim your lifespan by a few years.
Sleeping less than five or six hours a night can lead to elevated blood pressure and heart rate. With those factors in the mix, heart disease, arrhythmia, and stroke are not far away either. Drops in body temperature are one of the first symptoms that your body needs more sleep, so don’t take your sleep sessions lightly if you want to keep your cardiovascular health in check.
Tips to Unleash Superior Sleep Quality
Improving sleep quality isn’t an overnight affair, especially if the symptoms are already starting to show. In case you’re tossing and turning in bed every night, here are some tips which you can try to hack proper rest and prevent sleeplessness from evolving into a serious health issue.
Lay off Caffeine, Nicotine, and Alcohol
Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol stimulate the nervous system, but if consumed regularly and to excess, they can completely shatter your peaceful dreams. If possible, try to limit your intake of coffee and spirits, and lay off smoking to make sure you fall asleep faster and improve the quality of your nighttime rest.
Set up Your Nest for Nighttime Rest
Visual and audio distractions can be another reason why you’re still counting sheep at 3 a.m. To nudge your sleep onto the healthy and uninterrupted track, clean your bedroom of clutter and consider reorganizing your bedroom based on the principles of Feng Shui design.
Scenting the Path to Dream Realm
Aromatherapy is a centuries’ old stress relief method that can help you fall asleep faster and get all the nighttime rest your body needs for another busy day. Pour a few drops of chamomile or lavender oil into your bedtime bath, or sprinkle bedclothes with relaxing essential oils to scent your way to the dream realm.
A Plateful of Sleep-Inducing Snacks
Carbohydrates are the nutrient sweet dreams are made of, so make sure to stock your dinner plate with complex carb-rich staples such as boiled rice, potatoes, or corn before turning in for the night. You can also try enriching your menu with tryptophan and melatonin enhancing foods such as cherry juice, milk, honey, walnuts, and kale.
Exercise your way to Quality Sleep
You know how you sleep much better if you’re tired? It’s simple really, your body needs to recover from the physical exertion it’s been through during the day. So, use this mechanism to improve both quality and duration of your sleep; do some moderate to intense exercise on a regular basis and don’t forget to stretch and breathe properly. Experts from Santosha Yoga Institute claim that a tiring exercise routine, accompanied by proper breathing and followed by stretching can significantly improve your sleep patterns.
Ditch the Screen to Hack Sound Sleep
A recent study found that exposure to light emitted by smart screens at bedtime impacts sleep quality. If you want to fall asleep fast, let your mind off the virtual hook: swap the e-book for a hardback at bedtime, try conscious breathing exercises, or go out for a quick jog in the park.
The negative effects of sleep deprivation don’t stop on the skin level and the puffiness and dark circles in the eye area. Unless you identify the problem and take steps to remedy it on time, lack of sleep can completely shatter your focus, energy, and mental faculties. Take active steps to prevent sleep deprivation today: don’t lose your health over lost sleep. Sweet dreams!
About the Author
Nicole Noel is a lifestyle blogger at HighStyleLife magazine. She is passionate about travel and healthy living and enjoys sharing her experiences and ideas on how to lead a happy and healthy life. If you want to read more from Nicole you can find her on Twitter and FB.