Depriving ourselves of sleep; we’re all guilty of it at times. Staying up for an extra hour in the evenings to catch the end of a film, messing around on social media until late or rolling home in the early hours of the morning after a night out. It all seems harmless enough, after a few strong coffees to get us through the next day there appears to be no lasting effects. But what you might not know is that sleep deprivation is incredibly dangerous- scarily so in fact. And while we’re always going to have nights where we don’t get as much sleep as we’d like, reading these facts might just inspire you to have an early night tonight.
In the short term, a lack of sleep will cause damage to your body in a number of ways. It will disrupt your hormones, have a negative impact on your mood and can even result in accidental death due to lack of concentration and being more accident prone. But it’s when you continue to lose sleep is when the scary problems can occur. This can happen as a result of shift work, a very busy lifestyle or health problems that result in you not being get a good night’s sleep. Over time, you can become so used to functioning on shorter sleep times that you don’t even recognise that you’re sleep deprived any more. If you rely on caffeine just to stop you from dozing off during the day, then this could be you.
As you continue to go without enough sleep, your body begins to suffer. Your immune system weakens leaving you susceptible to other illnesses- possibly resulting in a vicious cycle of then getting less sleep again because you’re not feeling well. It can cause you to gain weight, your blood pressure to soar and can even lead to serious conditions such as type two diabetes, heart attack and stroke. As well as the cognitive and physical strain lack of sleep can put on your body, you’re likely to also suffer emotional problems as well. Feeling physically and mentally unwell and exhausted can put a lot of strain on relationships and so as you can see, it really does affect all areas of your life.
Luckily there are things you can do to improve the problem. If you believe you have a condition that’s affecting your sleep, the first step would be to visit your doctor as soon as possible. If your lack of sleep is down to poor choices, then making a change will massively improve your quality of life. Take steps to relax in the evenings such as meditating, practicing yoga and having a hot bath. A comfortable and good quality bed will support your body so you’re able to relax better, the Sleep Council has concluded that a good quality bed can actually give you an extra hour’s sleep each night. Invest in the best bed you can afford, being sure that the mattress that suits you and the way you sleep. This is why 120 nights home trial is better than 5 minutes try-out in the store, as then you’re able to really find out if it’s a good fit for you. Since caffeine can last in the body for up to fourteen hours, don’t drink any past mid morning (or better still, give it up for good). Avoid drinking alcohol too, while this can make you feel sleepy it actually disrupts normal sleep processes so you won’t wake up feeling refreshed. Practice turning off all technology an hour before bed, as it’s been shown to interrupt the brain’s natural ability to shut down each night.
Life isn’t perfect, and there will always be times when you just can’t help having a late night. If you’ve fallen into bad habits with your sleep routine, or have an underlying problem thats affecting you getting a decent night’s kip then be sure to address that sooner rather than later. Whenever you can maintain good sleeping habits. They matter more than you might think!