Are you feeling like a night owl at the moment, lying awake staring at the ceiling in the early hours of the morning? Sleeping well can be a challenge for many people and the struggle is real. Lack of sleep affects how we think and feel, sleep is important for our physical and mental health and if you are not getting quality sleep it can lead to a variety of health and social problems. There are multiple factors that can contribute to poor sleep or sleep deprivation. Many scientists make a distinction between insomnia and sleep deprivation. For example, people with insomnia, medical conditions or pain have trouble sleeping even though they have plenty of time to sleep. On the other hand, people who are sleep deprived don’t have enough time for sleep due to lifestyle and behaviour choices. We live in a society where the high expectations of always achieving and voluntary choices can reduce available sleep time.
In this guide we are going to talk about the consequences of sleep deprivation on your mind and body, the 10 health benefits of good sleep and the treatment for sleep deprivation.
Consequences of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep plays an important role in the effective functioning in our mind and body and persistent lack of sleep can have major consequences on our daily life:
◾ Central nervous system
Lack of sleep can cause psychological risks to your mental health. It can cause mood swings and affect your decision-making processes, creativity and worsen anxiety and stress.
◾ Digestive System
Sleep deprivation affects the two hormones, leptin and ghrelin that control appetite. Lack of sleep can raise ghrelin, this hormone increases appetite that can lead to snacking late at night and weight gain. If you have quality sleep, the body can help to regulate the hormone leptin that tells the brain to decrease your appetite.
◾ Cardiovascular disease
Various studies have shown that people who don’t sleep enough are at higher risk of developing coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
Poor sleep can lower your immune system and leave you more vulnerable to respiratory infections like the common cold, flu and chronic lung illness.
10 Health Benefits of Good Sleep
Good sleep is essential for maintaining overall physical and mental health. During sleep, the body is able to repair and rejuvenate itself, allowing for improved physical performance, cognitive function and emotional wellbeing.
The benefits of good sleep include:
1. Increased Energy Levels
When you sleep well, your mind and body can recharge and you wake up feeling well-rested and energetic.
2. Improved Brain Performance
If you don’t get enough sleep your mental performance in the ability to solve problems and think clearly will suffer. Quality sleep improves mental health performance.
3. Decreased Inflammation
Various studies have shown that good sleep can reduce gastrointestinal inflammation for a healthier gut and can decrease the risk of colon cancer.
4. Enhanced Immune System
Sleep deprivation reduces the body’s natural immunity making you more likely to get sick. People that sleep more than 8 hours every night can strengthen their immune system and lessen the chances of becoming ill.
5. Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Good sleep can help reduce heart disease and strokes.
6. Better Relationships
Studies have found that poor sleep hygiene can make you feel irritable and angry and reduce your ability to process facial expression, thereby making it difficult for you to read and respond appropriately to someone’s feelings. Better sleep is critical for strengthening social relationships.
7. Weight Management
Quality sleep can help with weight management. It seems that diet and exercise alone are not sufficient for weight loss and getting enough sleep can be just as important for managing your weight.
8. Tissue Repair and Growth
There’s a reason why people say, “Make sure you get your beauty sleep.” A good night’s rest encourages muscle tissue repair and growth. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that if you are an athlete or someone involved in exercise and training, getting plenty of sleep can boost your energy.
9. Relaxes Your Mind
If you are stressed and anxious, try getting more sleep. A good night’s sleep reorganises connections in the brain to reduce stress and anxiety. If you are going through a difficult time, getting more quality sleep can help improve your mood the next day.
10. Improves Memory
Scientists have found that there is a connection between memory and sleep. There is evidence that suggests that when you don’t get enough sleep it can impair long term memory, your ability to focus and decision making. Deep sleep can help improve learning and memory for information retention.
Treatment for Sleep Deprivation
Poor sleep affects every area of your life, but the good news is that you can make some simple changes in your daily life to help you get better sleep. The best way to avoid sleep deprivation is to make sure you follow the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep for most adults ages 18 to 64.
Here are some sleep rituals to wind down before bedtime and make sleep a priority:
- Have a regular bedtime schedule even during weekends and holidays
- Go to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning to help regulate your sleep cycle
- Spend an hour with relaxing activities, reading, meditation or gentle yoga exercises before going to sleep
- Take a soothing warm bath
- Digital wellbeing; switch off electronic equipment an hour before bedtime
- Reduce coffee intake and other stimulants after lunch
- Reduce your alcohol intake
- Eating early dinners
Create your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary, keep your room smelling fresh and clean with natural cleaning products. Open the windows during the day for fresh air and use softer lighting for a relaxing environment.
“The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.”
- Matthew Walker, Why We Sleep -
Enjoy Sleep for Life
The body is like a machine and just like we need air to breath, healthy food, exercise to function, we also need quality sleep to continue supporting our life. If one of these areas is out of balance then it can lower our quality of life. Sleep can help to heal the mind and body to function properly.