We lead busy lives. We fill our days with activity after activity for fear of missing out or not being able to check all the things off of our to - do list. Sometimes, getting enough sleep is the least of our priorities. Most of us subsist on getting only 4 to 6 hours of sleep per day.
You might say that’s enough. You might say that you feel well rested and more alert. You might say that 6 hours of sleep is all you need anyway. You wear your lack of sleep like a badge of honour. You think sleep is getting in the way of your productivity. Do you really believe that?
Weight problems and moodiness
There are real life repercussions to chronic sleep deprivation. Among the many adverse effect of not getting enough sleep are impaired judgement, memory decline, moodiness, poor reflexes, slower vocabulary, decrease in work performance and making sound decisions, poor skin, and weight problems. And those are just some of the ways sleep deprivation can have an overall negative impact on the quality of your life.
But we all know these negative effects. We’ve experienced them at some point in our lives. The one thing we don’t talk about is how sleep deprivation can cause hormonal imbalance and in turn, hormonal imbalance can cause sleep deprivation. It’s a vicious cycle that can only get worse as we deprive ourselves of much needed rest. This is why we should pay attention.
Repair the body
Sleep is not only good for rest but also for repair. As we sleep, our bodies start to heal and repair the wears and tears of the day.
Sleep deprivation can also cause the body to produce more chemicals and hormones that can increase our risk to heart disease. These hormones increase our risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol. They can even increase our risk for diabetes and obesity.
Remember the last time you’ve been sleep deprived (yesterday, anyone?). You most likely noticed dark circles under your eyes and dull skin. You may even have had breakouts. When you are sleep deprived, your body begins to release more of the stress hormone called Cortisol (it is THE stress hormone). This can break down skin collagen and can cause all sorts of havoc on your skin. But that’s not the only thing cortisol does. Cortisol keeps your body on heightened alert increasing your heart rate and blood pressure. It’s almost as if you’re in a chronic state of stress.
Sleep deprived individuals may also suffer from a lower sex drive due to decrease in secreted Testosterone levels. That’s another hormone that is thrown off balance due to lack of sleep.
On the flip side, there are hormones that are beneficial to our health that are only released during sleep. When we sleep, growth hormones and Melatonin are released. Melatonin, in particular, is only released during sleep. Not only is it responsible for facilitating quality sleep but it is also a very important antioxidant.
It is important to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. You can take sleep aids like Melatonin and Ashwagandha, both of which promote good sleep. Ashwagandha in particular is said to support healthy sleep by rejuvenating the body and addressing stress-related exhaustion, particularly by controlling and limiting the overproduction of Cortisol.
Practice good sleep hygiene by trying to stick to the same sleep schedule, keeping your room conducive to sleep, turning off gadgets and anything that that emits blue light, and making sure your bedroom is only for bedroom activities (no work files or laptops please), and checking your diet for hidden caffeine and sleep killers.