How Lack of Sleep Can Impact Daily Life
Your quality of life depends on getting proper rest. We know that may sound dramatic, but it’s the honest truth. Shorter sleep essentially leads to a shorter life span, and when you experience a lack of sleep–whether prolonged or just for an evening–your mind and body suffer.
Ever experience lulls in your energy as the day progresses, even though you’ve downed your morning cup of Joe–or several–and squeezed in some endorphin-generating exercise? Lack of sleep could be a reason for your fatigue. Are you feeling extra moody or experiencing high highs and low lows? Insufficient rest might be to blame. Notice your ability to concentrate or participate in daily tasks and chores–or even during conversations–is diminished? Yup, you guessed it, your cognitive dysfunction could be due to a shortage of sleep.
We aren’t kidding when we say sleep deprivation is one of the most significant public health threats at present, and sadly, the pitfalls of sleep deprivation are not few and far between. In fact, the number of adverse effects that can directly result from lack of sleep is utterly alarming.
Before addressing how lack of sleep can impact your daily life–both in the interim and long term–let’s clarify one thing. You can’t accumulate a lack of sleep like debt, then pay it off all at once by sleeping for 15 hours on the weekend after pulling a few all-nighters. That’s not how it works. To ensure your body and mind are operating optimally, proper sleep must be part of your daily routine–for the span of your entire lifetime.
Now, let’s see an overview of what’s at stake when you aren’t getting proper sleep:
- Hormone imbalances
- More susceptible to infections and slower recovery times
- Decreased cognitive abilities
- Shortcomings with physical health
- Increased danger to society–and yourself
- Lower performance and productivity levels
- Heightened mental health issues
- Long-term health problems
Believe it or not, hormone production depends on how much sleep you get. On the low end, your body needs 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep for your hormones to stay in balance. Waking up throughout the night, lack of sleep, and insomnia can alter your stress biochemistry as Cortisol–the stress hormone–is triggered.
When your hormones go out of whack, they can appear in various ways, influencing men and women quite differently. A Ted Talk on sleep deprivation reveals that lack of sleep can actually age a man an entire decade. Men who sleep 5 hours a night have significantly smaller testicles than those who sleep 7 hours or more. Additionally, men who only get 4–5 hours of rest a night have a level of testosterone that resembles a man 10 years their senior. This matter of 2 hours is DRASTIC and so necessary!
Women experience female reproductive health issues caused by lack of sleep and hormone imbalances that can lead to larger disorders such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or Hashimoto Disease. Hormone imbalances can lead to lower fertility rates if the appropriate course of action is not taken. Not to mention, lack of sleep leads to decreased sex drive. All of this sounds dreary, right?
What is the trick to avoiding these fluctuations in hormones? 7-9 hours of sleep every single night.
Weakened Immune System
Another problem associated with sleep deprivation is that the body becomes less resilient to warding off infections. During your slumber, your body works hard to heal, restore itself, and repair cells to keep you operating at full capacity. Your immune system produces protective infection-fighting compounds such as antibodies and cytokines in your sleep state, which fight off infections, bacteria, viruses, and more. Without adequate sleep, your body struggles to fend off foreign invaders, making you more susceptible to respiratory infections, common colds, and so on and so forth.
That’s why you often hear the phrase “sleep it off” when someone suggests how to combat anger, anxiety, stress, or sickness. Sleep is the ultimate healer.
Decreased Brain Function
Insufficient rest may also rob you of your capacity to push yourself intellectually or strive to reach new heights in different areas of your life, and that is because your brain relies on sleep to ensure memory retention and memory function. Without adequate sleep, your beautiful brain can’t shape new conceptual relationships or absorb new memories as easily, posing a challenge when you are required to be present and use critical thinking or decision-making skills.
That test you stayed up all night for cramming and studying? Hate to break it to you, but you won’t be able to recall as much information as you would if you laid your pretty little head down on the pillow to give your brain a break from information overloading. If you’re hoping to be top of the class, you’ll need sleep before and after learning to prepare your brain to soak up and digest information. Forget about the all-nighters–they are a myth and don’t help with long-term memory retention! Stick to a solid sleep schedule; we implore you.
Shortcomings with Physical Health
Surprisingly enough, poor slumber makes you more prone to weight gain and overindulgence. When you’re not well rested, chemicals within the body give your brain mixed signals about your hunger levels. Your brain’s ability to indicate that you are in fact not hungry becomes misleading and confusing. Leptin tells your brain that you’ve had ample food as fuel to sustain your energy and hunger levels, indicating to your brain and belly that you are full. Not enough sleep manifests in the reduction of leptin and an increase of ghrelin–the hunger hormone–, and as a result, you might overindulge in food or make unwise choices regarding what you eat.
Additionally, because your body repairs cells in your sleep, lack of it can lead to a higher risk of chemicals in the body, which can be linked to inflammation. This not only makes healing from physical injury a longer process but can also create joint issues and disturb overall physical well-being.
Danger to Society–and yourself
Reduced sleep means more room for accidents and injuries to occur. But how? For starters, less sleep correlates with slower reflex times, and slower reflex times make you more susceptible to, say, not reacting fast enough to steer out of the way of an oncoming car or dodge an inbound soccer ball to the face. Worse, lack of sleep makes one more sensitive to physical pain, so you’ll also feel your injuries more intensely.
Due to lagging response times, errors in performance are more probable. Specific activities–such as driving while drowsy–should be avoided if you are running on little sleep. When you are drowsy behind the wheel, your mind might act as though you are drunk, but you’ll also likely experience drooping eyelids, which can hinder your ability to see the road. Drowsy driving is responsible for 21% of fatal crashes annually, slightly less than 30% of all fatal traffic accidents caused by driving under the influence of alcohol and other substances. Still, think sleep deprivation isn’t dangerous?
In short, anything that requires decision-making is impaired when your sleep meter is low. You may also engage in impulsive behavior due to decreased ability to think clearly. Sending that text to your ex or purchasing something far too expensive because your brain can’t comprehend the consequences at that exact moment–let sleep be the friend you need that will keep you from doing things you’ll regret later.
Lower Performance and Productivity Levels
People have this misconception that productivity means doing the most. But suppose you have your hands tied in numerous directions, prioritizing getting all your work done over adequate sleep. Your energy levels and cognitive performance will deplete rapidly due to spreading yourself too thin, and you won’t be able to contribute as you would if you had just gotten those few extra hours.
Studies show that the average adult under 65 needs 7–9 hours of sleep to function, concentrate, and accomplish day-to-day tasks properly—your ability to think logically or as efficiently. If you’re experiencing brain fog or cannot fully tap into your workflow, it’s time to reevaluate your sleeping patterns.
This isn’t a drill–sleep directly impacts performance and productivity. Your performance levels in business and social settings will decrease, as low energy means less effort and drowsiness throughout the day. One would assume that our endorphins and dopamine would pump from a workout or that caffeine could help boost stamina. However, chugging coffee or exercising while running off little sleep is a recipe for low vitality and, ultimately reduced output.
Heightened Mental Health Issues
Studies show that regular insomnia makes you 5 times more likely to develop depression, anxiety, or panic disorder. As mentioned previously, your cortisol levels will rise in response to lack of sleep, which can lead to a greater risk of anxious thoughts, suicidal thoughts, and paranoia in the day-to-day. Mood disorders are also more prevalent in those without enough shut-eye. Since tell-tale signs of anxiety and depression develop over an extended period, consider sleep depravity a silent but perilous affliction to our mental health.
Long-Term Health Problems
Sleep deficiency can develop into much more severe health conditions and disorders if left unresolved. Kidney disease, obesity, depression, heart disease, and diabetes are just a few of the horrific ailments directly correlated to long-term sleep difficulties; A weakened immune system can cause respiratory issues like chronic lung illnesses. Similarly, beta-amyloid–a toxic protein linked to Alzheimer’s and memory loss–can build up in the brain and form sticky amyloid plaques, all in response to lack of sleep. If you continue to burden your body and mind with unhealthy sleeping patterns, there is a lot at risk.
Plain and simple–sleep is the foundation of good health. If you begin to recognize your daily routine is starting to fluctuate and that your performance levels aren’t where they should be, do a quick analysis of your recent sleeping patterns. Make getting a healthy night’s rest a priority, as it impacts all other areas of your life. Remember, you’re not yourself when you’re sleep-deprived. If you want to nourish your mental and physical body and be on top of work productivity, show up in your relationships, and get the most out of your day, sufficient sleep should be part of your daily routine–doctor’s orders.
Are you ready to start sleeping better? Contact us now for a consultation!