Getting the right amount of fats, carbs, and proteins might be easy for you, but what about getting the right amount of sleep? Sleep is just as important as eating right because of the health risks associated with sleep deprivation. When you sleep the cells in your body are working hard to recharge, reenergize, and repair. Without sleep, the body can’t do these vital tasks.
While it might be hard to change up the sleep routine that’s been “working” for you for years, there are significant changes you should make to your day to improve your nights and avoid sleep deprivation’s effects.
Dangerous Sleep Deprivation Effects
The Effects of Lack of Sleep on Your Body
Humans are complex organisms with an abundance of processes going on at once. We need sleep to rest from these so we can continue another day. Some of the health risks if you don’t sleep include:[i]
Risk of heart disease
Weight Gain / Obesity
Poor blood sugar regulation
Delayed growth in children and young adults
Lowered immune system function and sickness as a result
During sleep, your body needs to focus on repairing tissue and cellular damage as well as maintaining the blood vessels and your heart. Not getting enough sleep also encourages the production of the hormone ghrelin which makes you feel hungry forcing you into a night-time binge eating session. Additionally, hormones that promote growth and repair muscles can’t work properly without deep sleep. [ii]
On Your Mind
Furthermore, in a 2007 review of studies on cognitive functions and sleep deprivation, they found that sleep deprivation impairs a range of cognitive functions.[iii] These functions include memory, emotional regulation, and attention.
Not getting enough sleep isn’t just a danger to your health – it’s also dangerous to the health of those around you! Some studies have shown that functions in the brain are limited enough that the chance for occupational incidents increases by 300% in the sleep deprived, making sleep very important for productivity and safety.[iv]
The economic consequences are magnified by a non-profit European research group, which discovered that sleep deprivation in the U.S has led to a loss of 411 billion dollars 2.28% of our GDP and costs the U.S. 1.2 million working days a year.[v]
The health risks and societal consequences of being sleep deprived are too big to be ignored.
Is Your Sleep Making You Sick, Fat, and Tired?
Take this quick quiz to find out what kind of sleeper you are, and how badly your sleep habits are affecting you:
Sleep Deprivation Symptoms
You might think you get 7-8 hours and everything is good, however, quality sleep is just as important as quantity and knowing if you’re getting both may be difficult. So, it’s important to look for sleep deprivation symptoms.
Sleep deprivation symptoms include:[vi]
Trouble falling asleep immediately
Difficult constructing phrases or relying too heavily on clichés
Having difficulty reading this list
Serious and frequent arguments
Falling asleep just because it’s dark
MedlinePlus suggest talking to your doctor if you experience 3 or more of these:
It typically takes you more than 30 minutes to fall asleep at night.
Awaken frequently in the night and have trouble falling back to sleep.
Awaken too early in the morning.
Don’t feel well rested despite having eight hours.
Feel sleepy during the day and fall asleep within five minutes if you have an opportunity to nap, or you fall asleep unexpectedly or at inappropriate times during the day.
Your partner reports that you snore loudly, snort, or make choking sounds while you sleep, or your partner notices your breathing stops for short periods.
Creeping, tingling feelings in your legs that are relieved by moving or massaging them, especially in the evening or when you try to fall asleep.
Vivid, dreamlike experiences while falling asleep or dozing.
Episodes of sudden muscle weakness when you are angry or fearful, or when you laugh.
Feel as though you cannot move when you first wake up.
Your bed partner notes that your legs or arms jerk often during sleep.
Regularly depend on wake-promoting products, such as caffeinated beverages, to stay awake during the day
If you’re feeling the impact of not catching enough ZZZ’s on a consistent basis it’s time to change your habits — risking your health, and your productivity isn’t worth it.
How to Sleep Better and Avoid Sleep Deprivation
Support sleep with herbs: Having a nice cup of sleepytime tea with calming herbs like valerian root, passionflower, and skullcap can also help improve overall sleep quality, and help you wind down in the evening.
Napping is good for you. They give you energy and relieve fogginess. 30-minute or 90-minute naps are the best. 30 minutes is long enough but doesn’t put you in a deep sleep to suddenly wake from, while 90 minutes is long enough to go through a deep sleep cycle without interrupting any stages of sleep.
Deal with stress and your schedule. Part of the problem is getting to sleep, you lie in bed for 45 minutes tossing and turning and worrying about life before you can get rest. Organizing and compartmentalizing your work priorities from the rest of your life is effective for reducing stress before sleep. Additionally, a better night sleep will probably mean doing a better job on those tasks.
Plan meals and drinks ahead. Eating acidic foods, or caffeinated drink will keep you up and limit the amount of rest you can get. Avoid things that will disrupt your sleep before bed, and eat things like:[ix]
Lettuce which contains lactucarium a sedative property
Cherries or tuna which boost the sleep inducing chemical melatonin
Sleepytime teas that contain active sedative ingredients such as valerian, passionflower, and skullcap can help you wind down before bed, promoting a more restful sleep. Our favorite organic sleep tea is Nightly Zen since it contains all three herbs.
Set consistent wake-up times and bed times to work with your sleep schedule instead of against it
Avoid electronics, not only are they bright and noisey, but emails from work and texts from friends is the last thing you need to worry about when you sleep.
Exercise during the day. Make your body want the rest so you don’t have to force yourself to sleep which almost never works.
Getting good rest is vital for heart, kidney, and brain health. We have developed these routines that go against our natural rhythms and needs, and if we don’t get back on track as individuals and as a society there can be huge effects across the board.
[i] Why Is Sleep Important? – National Hear, Lung, and Blood Institute. Nhlbi.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why. Accessed March 22, 2017.
[ii] Why Is Sleep Important? – National Hear, Lung, and Blood Institute. Nhlbi.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why. Accessed March 22, 2017.
[iii] Alhola P, Polo-Kantola P. Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. 2007;3(5):553-567.
[iv] Sherwood J, Aufsesser K, Bogan R. Sleep Deprivation & Health Risk Management: High Risk Environments/ Transportation. In: American Society of Safety Engineers. Available at: https://www.onepetro.org/conference-paper/ASSE-16-507. 2016:Abstract.
[v] Wright L. Canada loses 80,000 working days a year due to sleep deprivation | Toronto Star. thestarcom. 2017. Available at: https://www.thestar.com/business/2016/11/30/canada-loses-80000-working-days-a-year-due-to-sleep-deprivation.html. Accessed March 22, 2017.
[vi] Bender R. 10 Surprising Signs You’re Sleep-Deprived. The Huffington Post. 2014. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/06/sleep-deprived-signs_n_5551756.html. Accessed March 22, 2017.
[viii] Sleep tips: 7 steps to better sleep – Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep/art-20048379. Accessed March 22, 2017.
[ix] Jung A. 16 Foods That Help You Sleep | Reader’s Digest. Reader’s Digest. 2017. Available at: http://www.rd.com/health/beauty/foods-that-help-you-sleep/. Accessed March 22, 2017.
[x] Sleep tips: 7 steps to better sleep – Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep/art-20048379. Accessed March 22, 2017.
[xi] Wright L. Canada loses 80,000 working days a year due to sleep deprivation | Toronto Star. thestarcom. 2017. Available at: https://www.thestar.com/business/2016/11/30/canada-loses-80000-working-days-a-year-due-to-sleep-deprivation.html. Accessed March 22, 2017.