Many people go to bed late and/or get up early to deal with work and family demands. Others go to bed at a reasonable time, but have trouble falling or staying asleep. Not getting enough sleep can impact many aspects of life.
How Sleep Deprivation Can Affect Physical and Mental Health
Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis can weaken your immune system and can increase your risk of becoming obese and developing serious medical conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. It may also increase your risk of having a stroke or dying prematurely.
Getting enough sleep helps the body regulate hormone and insulin levels. It may even help you lose weight without dieting and working out a lot. Sleep deprivation, however, can make you crave sugar and carbohydrates, which can lead to weight gain.
Insufficient sleep can affect your skin. It can lead to stress and can increase the production of glucocorticoids, which can lead to acne.
Driving while drowsy can raise your risk of getting into an accident. That can endanger you and others on the road.
Sleep deprivation can impact your mental health. Lack of sleep can make you feel anxious, stressed out, depressed and unmotivated. It may cause you to be tired and irritable, which can reduce your productivity and may strain your relationships with others.
Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is a stage that is important for learning and for storing information in your long-term memory. Sleep deprivation can make you forgetful and can make it difficult to concentrate.
How to Get Enough Sleep
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that adults get at least seven hours of sleep per night. For children, the guidelines vary based on age.
Consistency is one of the keys to getting enough sleep. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Staying up late one night can impact you the following day and may continue to affect you later in the week.
Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep. It should be dark and at a comfortable temperature. Avoid distractions, such as a TV, cellphone and laptop. They can keep you awake because of the content you use them to view and because of the light they emit.
Don’t smoke, eat a large meal or consume caffeine or alcohol shortly before bed. If you have trouble sleeping, exercising may help.
The quality of your sleep is just as important as the quantity. If you wake up repeatedly during the night, or if you get enough hours of sleep but still feel tired, that means you aren’t getting quality sleep.
If your partner has told you that you snore, or if you find it hard to breathe, you may have a sleep disorder. Contact your doctor to discuss your symptoms and possible tests and treatments.