The Surprising Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

We now live in a fast paced society. Everything needs to be done now, and there’s more we have to do. Deadlines, projects, meetings and conferences are a fact of life for many. Multi-tasking is now the norm, and it’s even more hectic when kids are added to the mix. As a result, we are trying to do more than ever in a 24 hour day.

I”ll rest when I’m dead” is a common catch-phrase in the business world. “Naps are for babies!” is another term we hear often. People are expected to put in longer hours at the office to get things done.  The more you can do, the more work you’re given to do.  Sound familiar?

Being able to do it all is good, but to do it all at the expense of getting a full night’s sleep or adequate rest can be detrimental to your health.

book girl indoors lampshade
Photo by Kha Ruxury on Pexels.com

We all know the benefits of exercise and eating healthy, but sleep is just as important to your overall health, and many of our everyday activities can be drastically affected if we don’t get enough:

Weight gain:  Are you gaining weight and don’t know why?  Are you exercising and eating a good diet but still putting on the pounds?

Your lack of sleep can be to blame.  A lack of sleep can make you feel sluggish and worn down, which in turn can be a sign of a slower metabolism. In other words, your body can’t burn calories efficiently when you feel this way.

Stress: Lack of sleep can affect a person’s mood, possibly causing irritability. Do you get cranky when you’re sleepy? This crankiness can impair your judgment and in turn add additional stress to an already hectic lifestyle. Stress itself has many negative effects, but extra sleep may help alleviate some of your stress levels and make you more alert. This may help  you cope with  life’s issues more efficiently.

Getting sick:  Are you prone to catching colds or do they seem to last longer than normal?  A lack of sleep might be part of the blame.  Sleep deprivation can weaken the immune system, thus making a person more susceptible to colds and the flu.

When we’re sick, the body needs extra rest to repair and regenerate itself, and on the flip-side, this rest is needed to keep us healthy.

Long Term Health Issues:  According to a Harvard Medical School study, Sleep deprivation over an extended period of time can suppress your immune system and  can increase your risk for the following diseases.1

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Heart disease

Lack of concentration: It is very difficult to focus on an important test, project or meeting if you’re sleepy.  Adequate rest will help you stay alert and ready for the day’s tasks.

Get your rest!

As you can see, these are very serious issues that could possibly be alleviated by getting rest.  For the average person, they simply need to get to bed earlier to get more rest.  But if you have trouble sleeping or have insomnia, try these tips:

Warm bath.  Take a warm bath before you go to bed to relax yourself.

Massage.  A nice massage is a great way to relax and unwind.

Turn off your cell phone.  The illumination and text message alerts from the phone can wake you up (or keep you awake.)

Herbal tea.  chamomile, catnip, anise or fennel tea are relaxing and can help you go to sleep.

Warm milk.  There is debate on if this actually works, but give it a try if you’re not lactose intolerant.

Setting a sleep schedule.  Your body has an internal clock. Once on a schedule, it will adhere to it and get sleep on queue.

Exercise. Exercise has many health benefits. In order to improve physically, our bodies must rest and recover between workouts. Being physically tired from exercise could help induce better sleep.

See your doctor. If all else fails, see your doctor.

If you want to be the best person you can be, getting enough sleep is crucial.  Now how much a person needs may vary from person to person, but studies suggest the average person needs between 7-9 hours of sleep a night, while teenagers and infants need more:

Have trouble sleeping at night? Here are some great tips on sleeping positions:

Each person is different, so take a good look at yourself and ask yourself if you are experiencing any of the issues discussed above.  If so, more sleep may be what you need. Don’t let a lack of sleep prevent you from living a happy, healthy life!

Want more information? Click HERE to read about the debate on which is more important: sleep or exercise?

In order to become the best you can be, you must change your mindset. No one can do it for you, you must want it for yourself. Get more great tips in my books The 3 Pillars of Strength: Increasing Your Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Fitness and The Diet of Success: Healthy Eating Tips for Hard Working Professionals. Both available on Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audible formats. 

1 Sleep and Disease Risk. http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences/sleep-and-disease-risk

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