Sleep is a common struggle for many of us. There are days when we think we got enough sleep, only to suddenly feel exhausted at some point. The societal expectations we have today praise sleep deprivation as well, making it harder to achieve a goal of getting enough sleep as you do not want to look ‘lazy’, or you want to compete with others in terms of how well you can function with as little rest as possible.
However, sleep is not simply a reward after a long day or a sign of weakness – it is what sustains your health and your body. Since many of us struggle with sleep deprivation, it is not surprising that there are increasing cases of emotional, physical, and mental stress. It may not always appear in the form of nodding off during your workdays or yawning, but instead can show up as subtle cues that accumulate over time and leave you burnt out.
To combat the problem, you must know what these signs are and correct the situation when you notice them. We will talk about several of these signs here.
The link between emotional health and your sleep is a close-knit one – as study findings have shown that patients who struggle with depression and anxiety are more likely to experience chronic insomnia. Even in the short term, sleep loss will create negative impacts on your quality of life and mood, as you tend to be more stressed, irritable, and cranky.
Additionally, stress and sleep deprivation also results in a harmful cycle. The more anxious you become, the longer you take to sleep, then the reduced sleep quality results in more sensitivity to anxiety and stress that happens in daily life.
Poor performance and productivity
During the days when you are sleep-deprived, you know the feeling of losing your ability to focus and reason through things – even simple ones. That leads to negative results in the workplace, school, or anywhere else you are expected to perform your daily duties, with a study from Harvard Medical School revealing that insomnia alone costs the American economy more than $60 billion annually due to productivity losses.
You might think that it is more important to stay up until the late hours of the night working on a project or assignment, but that is not the case – getting enough sleep is the better choice to make. Even getting a daytime nap for a few minutes can help you regain energy for your work and increase creativity, as long as you do them the right way.
Weight fluctuations and/or insatiable appetite
You may be unaware of it, but obese and overweight people tend to have a common struggle – the lack of proper sleep. This is due to the higher levels of the hunger-increasing hormone ghrelin and lower levels of the hunger-suppressing hormone leptin when you are sleep deprived.
The fluctuations in these hormones prompt you to reach for snacks to satisfy your cravings and issues with weight management.
Easiest ways you can notice your skin bearing the weight of fatigue? Check for turned-down corners of your mouth, dark circles under your eyes, and eyes that look puffy and red. It is easy to tell whether you have had a good night’s sleep or a rough one, and makeup cannot always save you on that one either – the essence of good-looking skin is getting sufficient sleep and nutrition.
Your brain heavily depends on proper sleep to make good decisions and read social situations accurately, so this is among the first places to suffer if you are sleep deprived. The region of the brain responsible for this job, the prefrontal cortex, tends to ‘go to sleep’ when you are very tired, and you feel as though you are struggling to reason through things and make decisions.
This seems like a fairly obvious sign, and it is not always in the form of yawning or needing coffee every five minutes to keep you awake. It shows up even during the times you are supposed to be extra-alert, like when you are behind the wheel.
Dealing with sleep deprivation takes deliberate effort, like purchasing the best mattress selections from Walmart’s mattress selection and taking the time to manage your day well to sleep early and wake up refreshed. The more you implement healthy sleeping tactics, the more productive and less stressed you become – and the healthier you get.