In our culture, you frequently see the message that “go, go, go” is the way to live your life. We’ve all heard people say “Sleep is for the weak” or “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” While these may be exaggerations, they are sending the wrong idea about consistent sleep. In reality, not getting enough sleep impacts your health in many different ways. Read on to learn why sleep is crucial to your health and how sleep deprivation can impact your mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
Sleep and Mental Health
If you have ever pulled an all-nighter studying for a big test or taken a red-eye flight, you know just how weird sleep deprivation can make you feel. Quality sleep plays a huge role in your mental functions during the day. If you have a hard time thinking clearly or concentrating, you may not be sleeping enough. Your reflexes, decision-making skills and judgment can also be impaired by sleep deprivation. That’s a pretty big deal if your sleep patterns are actually affecting the decisions you make. Sleep also impacts productivity and plays a considerable role in forming memories and learning new things.
Sleep and Physical Health
Your mind won’t be the only thing that will suffer from a lack of sleep, there are physical symptoms of sleep deprivation as well. Your immune system relies heavily on good sleep, meaning that if you are sleep deprived, you may get sick more often. When you don’t get enough sleep, your defenses against a cold or flu are compromised. In addition to a weakened immune system, those who suffer from sleep deprivation may notice that they gain weight quicker than their well-rested counterparts. This is because a lack of sleep influences the chemicals in your brain that signal when you’re full. With these chemicals out of whack, you’ll likely eat more than you need to.
Lack of sleep can also do a number on your workout regimen. Not only will it lower your energy levels, but it will also negatively affect your coordination, agility, speed and endurance - all important factors to help avoid accidents and injuries when working out. Lastly, those who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get cardiovascular disease. Sleep deprivation can increase your long-term risk for heart attack and stroke because the processes that keep your heart and blood vessels healthy all depend on sleep.
Sleep and Emotional Health
It’s no secret that the amount of sleep you get at night correlates with your mood. The saying that you “woke up on the wrong side of the bed” is common for a reason. Getting enough sleep allows your body to regulate the brain chemicals that make you feel good, such as epinephrine, dopamine and serotonin. No one wants to be a downer, which may happen without your control if you’re grumpy from lack of sleep. Sleep the recommended amount of hours each night so you can spend your days feeling positive, refreshed and confident.
If you seem to feel tired more often than not, are abnormally irritable or are yawning a lot, that’s your body’s way of telling you that you need to give it more sleep. For adults, the recommended amount of sleep for good health is about seven to nine hours. If you have a little less once in a while you might not notice a difference, but if you have turned that into a long-term habit, it’s time to make some changes to treat your body right and feel your best. To get your best night’s sleep, try swapping your pillow out for a pillow designed for your specific needs.