In order to maintain our health, we make commitments to eating healthy and exercising regularly. When it comes to sleep, however, we don’t always put it at the top of our priority list. We tend to treat sleep deprivation as something that can be fixed easily with a double shot espresso. At least that was how I saw it when I was in college, until one day I found out that my cholesterol level was way above normal. That’s not something that you want in your early twenties, or at any age for that matter. Sometimes, due to our work or school schedule, we think that sleep deprivation is unavoidable. But before we continue on depriving ourselves of sleep, we may want to consider that continuous lack of sleep could cause more damage than de-puffing eye cream and double shot espresso can undo.
Unwanted pounds. Lack of sleep is closely associated with weight gain and obesity, since it stimulates the appetite hormone ghrelin, and lowers leptin – the hormone that suppresses our appetite. The two things combined pose a double threat to anyone who’s trying to lose weight. Not enough sleep also goes hand-in-hand with stress – which predictably, leads to unhealthy food choices (salty, sugary food that provides temporary comfort). So whether you’re trying to lose weight, or maintain a healthy weight, it’s important to get enough sleep.
Increased health risks. Losing sleep increases the risks of various health issues, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression, and even cancer. Our body repairs and restores itself during sleep, so it’s no surprise that not getting enough sleep can lead to many health problems.
Decreased performance and increased irritability. Lack of sleep also leads to decreased performance of your memory and reasoning abilities, which means you probably will have more of those “duh” moments. In addition, unless you’re one of those people with high level of patience, you may find yourself more cranky when you don’t get enough sleep.
So you know that sleep is important, but you may still have a hard time getting enough of it. Try to think about what it is that’s depriving you of sleep, for example:
If you tend to find distractions before bedtime (like I do) – find ways to avoid them. Just as you commit yourself to eating healthy and exercising, make a commitment to going to bed early and regularly. Try turning off the tv, putting away your laptop and cellphone at least half an hour before bed. Not only will this help you fall asleep earlier, it can also help improve your sleep quality.
Is stress causing you to lose sleep? Sometimes there may not be much you can do about the cause of stress that you have at your workplace, but you can choose how to cope with it. Try relaxing before bed, maybe with a cup of herbal tea, your favorite candle, and a light reading.
Start reviewing your daytime habits. If you’ve tried the above methods, but are still having problems falling asleep, you may want to start thinking about the things you do during the day. Could it be that your late afternoon coffee habit, or evening workout schedule, keep you from sleeping at night? If yes, you may want to consider changing your coffee habits and switch your workout schedule around.
I hope this will encourage you to get more sleep tonight. If you have any sleep issues or thoughts on sleep deprivation, feel free to share!