Written by: Miranda Hanson
We all know that kids who refuse to take their afternoon naps and don’t want to go to bed on time spend the whole day acting whiney and grumpy. Well, even when we get older we behave exactly the same. After a sleepless night we are cranky, we cannot concentrate and we get easily annoyed by every single thing that otherwise wouldn’t even bother us. However, not getting a good night’s sleep affects our health in many other ways as well.
Aside from causing sleep deprivation headache, putting you at risk for heart disease and high blood pressure, not getting enough ZZZs can make you prone to stroke and diabetes. If you spend every night tossing and turning without being able to fall asleep, you need to be aware of all the ways sleep deprivation can interfere with your body’s internal systems and make some lifestyle changes that will help you sleep better.
Sleep loss makes you stupid
Have you noticed that the day after a sleepless night you are not able to think properly, let alone learn something new? This is because sleep improves our attention, alertness, concentration, and ability to solve problems.
In addition, sleep helps you remember what you have learned the day before. Brain events known as wave ripples transfer learned information from the hippocampus to the neocortex, a part of the brain where long-term memories are stored.
These wave ripples occur during the deepest levels of sleep, which is why without a good night’s sleep you will most likely soon forget everything you have learned the previous day.
Lack of sleep can make you gain weight
If you are trying to lose those extra pounds, staying awake won’t help you burn more calories. In fact, sleep can lead to obesity!
When you don’t get enough ZZZs your appetite increases and you can only blame leptin and ghrelin for that. These things with funny names are peptides that regulate appetite. While ghrelin stimulates hunger, leptin is responsible for signaling satiety to the brain. When you are sleep-deprived the levels of ghrelin in your body increase, while the levels of leptin are reduced.
Additionally, people who are not getting enough sleep are prone to craving high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods that only lead to weight gain.
It affects your libido
People who are sleep-deprived are not as interested in sex as people who are well-rested. Without getting enough ZZZs you are sleepy, tired, nervous and lack the energy to stay on top of things.
In research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in 2002 it was proven that men with sleep apnea have low testosterone levels. Therefore, if you want to rock someone’s world, you should take a nap beforehand.
It leads to depression
People who suffer from sleep deprivation are ten times more likely to develop depression than those who don’t. In fact, insomnia and depression go hand in hand. Not getting enough sleep boosts symptoms of depression, while being depressed makes it more difficult to fall asleep.
However, the good news is that since the link between these two conditions is strong, by treating one of them you are automatically treating the other one as well.
Your skin ages
At least once in your life you have heard someone say they need to rest and get their beauty sleep. Well, this isn’t as silly as it sounds. Lack of sleep doesn’t only lead to sallow skin and dark bags under your eyes. When you are sleep-deprived your body releases the stress hormone called cortisol. This hormone breaks down skin collagen, the protein that keeps your skin smooth, elastic and wrinkle-free.
In addition, you should keep in mind that the growth hormone is released during deep sleep and its purpose is to increase muscle mass, thicken skin, and strengthen bones. Therefore, is you don’t get enough sleep, this hormone isn’t released in a proper amount.
If you want to get a good night’s sleep, there are several strategies you could try out. Sticking to a sleep schedule, removing electronic devices from your bedroom, taking a bath or meditating before you go to bed, getting enough exercise on a daily basis and avoiding midnight snacks could help you sleep better. However, if you have already tried all of this and you still toss and turn every night, it might be wise to consult your physician.