5 Subtle Signs you’re not getting Enough Sleep
Sometimes you're so tired you just have to pass out on a park bench. But could you be suffering from the effects of sleep deprivation without even knowing?
According to this year’s survey of American sleep habits, 1/3 of us still aren’t getting enough sleep. Sometimes signs of sleep deprivation are obvious: you feel the need to hit the snooze button 17 times, you’ve literally tethered yourself to the office coffee pot (please don’t!), or you accidentally fall asleep on park benches, or at your desk. However there are some sneakier signs of sleep deprivation that might not even be on your radar. Keep reading to learn more about 5 subtle signs of sleep deprivation you might have missed:
You may not be getting enough sleep if…
1) You’re looking slightly less glamorous than usual:
It turns out that beauty sleep is actually a real thing, and we’re not just talking about the bags under your eyes. Research studies have also linked things like adult acne and weight gain to not getting enough sleep. This is because important hormone regulation activities and repair processes take place while you’re sleeping, and not getting enough deep sleep can stop your body from completing important nighttime tasks. Specifically, studies have found that losing even half an hour of sleep increases your cortisol response, which can cause your skin to produce more oil than usual (hello, acne!), and can also increase your appetite. So get your beauty sleep in, the (wo)man in the mirror will thank you.
Pro Tip: Everyone’s body has different sleep requirements, and while experts recommend no less than 8 hours per night you might find that you may need 9 or even 10 hours of sleep to function at your best. Experiment and find what works best for you!
2) Your road-rage is out of control:
Have you been snapping at your co-workers or maliciously cutting off your fellow traffic-warriors for no good reason? It turns out that too little sleep can actually cause you to be more irritable, moody, or even depressed, according to science. Not getting enough sleep can actually change the way your brain is able to moderate your emotional responses. Specifically, the connection between your mid-frontal cortex (the control center) and your amygdala (the road rage-center) is weakened, causing you to react to negative stimuli more intensely than you might otherwise. This study indicated that psychological stress you experience during the day could increase by up to 14% for each hour of sleep you lose. So please, on behalf of all your office pals and everyone on the road, consider getting some more sleep.
3) It seems like that word is just on the tip of your tongue, all the time:
Wait, I forgot what I was going to say…. Oh right! Many studies have shown that the parts of your brain responsible for language, memory, concentration, and creativity are negatively affected by lack of sleep. According to experts, you even don’t have to pull an all-nighter to feel these effects -- restricting sleep even 1 or 2 hours per night is enough to see drops in processing power. What’s more is that you might not even know it’s happening. According to this study, the brain under chronic sleep deprivation adapts to performing at a lower level, which means you could be performing below your true potential and not even know! Luckily though, increasing your nightly sleep back to the recommended 8-10 hours can reverse these effects. So get those Z’s and trick your co-workers into thinking you’ve become an overnight genius!
Fun Fact: According to this report, the loss in productivity we experience as a society due to chronic sleep deprivation could be costing our economy over $400 billion per year. Don’t be a part of the problem; get your 8 hours!
4) You take a lot of sick days, and not just because you want to sneak an extra day or two for your weekend beach getaway
Does it feel like you’ve gotten more than your fair share of colds this year? According to sleep researchers, you may be experiencing the effects of chronic sleep deprivation. Studies have found that chronic sleep loss actually lowers your body’s production of certain cells and proteins that boost your immune system’s function. Another study found that people who got less than 7 hours of sleep per night were almost 3 times as likely to catch a cold. The bad news doesn’t stop there. It turns out that regularly not getting enough sleep can also increase your susceptibility to more serious health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even heart disease. Some doctors even go so far as to say that increasing the amount of sleep you get on a nightly basis is one of the best things you can do for your health.
P.S. This study also found that getting even 30 minutes less sleep than you should during the weeknights can increase your risk for obesity by 17%, and your risk for insulin resistance (a precursor to type II diabetes) by as much as 39%.
5) Your snacking routine looks like doughnuts, french fries, pretzels, more doughnuts, repeat
You try to eat healthy, or maybe you try to want to eat healthy, but there’s something inside you that just craves sugary, greasy foods. Maybe you think you were born this way, but cravings and urges to snack can actually be a sign that you’re not getting enough sleep. When we sleep, our body regulates two key hormones that are responsible for feelings of hunger and satiety: ghrelin and leptin. If you’re not sleeping enough, these hormones can get out of whack and turn you into the human cookie monster, which is probably not something you’re going for. One study found that chronic sleep deprivation might cause you to eat an average of 300 more calories a day!
Any of the above sound like you?
You may not be getting enough sleep. But, as they say knowledge is power! Here are a few things you can try this week to boost your sleep game:
1) Check out these physician approved Nightly Routine Tips to get your sleep schedule back on track and fall asleep faster
2) Make sure your room is dark, cool, & quiet and stop using electronic devices that emit blue light at least ½ hour before bedtime
3) Exercise! – There’s lots of evidence that regular exercise can help you sleep better. Time to dig out those smelly old sneakers from the back of the closet!
4) Experiment with what works best for you! Keep track of the hours you sleep and how you feel the next day. Check out this Sleep Diary template from the National Sleep Foundation to help get you started!
That’s all folks! Thanks for reading! If you fell asleep finishing this article, you might be suffering from the effects of chronic sleep deprivation (haha). But, at least now you know what to do! Get some sleep tonight! Team Vasper, signing off.
Vasper is a company that creates a health and fitness technology designed to help naturally balance your hormones. What does that mean for you? Better sleep, stronger muscles, and less stress! Learn more here.