Signs You Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep
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INTRO TO SERIES
Every day millions of Americans start their days sleep deprived. In fact, sleep has become a prime focus among medical professionals and researchers largely because most people simply aren’t getting enough of it. For example, according to a 2013 Gallup poll, 40 percent of Americans don’t get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
In order to help readers become more aware of how sleep deprivation affects their daily lives and to improve the sleep they do get, PublicHealthCorps is producing a multi-part series on sleep called “While You Weren’t Sleeping.” Part One starts below.
Via Flickr – by Josh Angehr
While You Weren’t Sleeping Part One:
5 Surprising Signs You’re Sleep Deprived
In today’s fast-paced, overworked society, a lack of sleep has become a badge of honor. Of course, the reality is that sleep deprivation can have many negative side effects. In fact, because of its connection to motor vehicle and workplace accidents and medical mistakes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has labeled a lack of sleep a “public health epidemic.”
What many people don’t know is that feeling tired daily isn’t the only consequence of not getting enough rest. The effects are actually much more far-reaching. Here are a few surprising signs that you aren’t getting enough sleep.
Unhealthy food cravings. Studies have shown that not only will a lack of rest make you hungrier; it also contributes to a less healthy diet. A study from Northwestern University showed that night owls take in 248 more calories per day than people who go to bed early. The reason, according to a different study, could be that a sleep-deprived brain is less capable of fending off junk food cravings.
Via Flickr – by .angels.
Forgetfulness. If you notice that you’re having trouble remembering certain tasks, e.g. maybe you forgot about a conference call at work or neglected to pick up milk at the grocery store, the culprit could be your tired brain. Research has shown that your brain consolidates memories while you sleep so recalling new information can be more difficult when you aren’t well-rested.
Irritability. Not getting enough sleep can significantly affect mood, and a bad mood can affect the quality of sleep you get. Depression and anxiety–which can be exacerbated by negative feelings–commonly affect sleep. See your doctor if you think you might be suffering from these illnesses.
Impaired judgment. When we don’t get enough sleep, our decision-making ability suffers. And in fact, as a WebMD.com article notes, our ability to judge how our sleep habits are affecting us, becomes especially distorted. The reality is while you may think your lack of rest isn’t affecting you right now, it could have significant long-term effects on your physical and mental health.
Via Flickr – by 401(K) 2012
More trips to the doctor. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces antibodies more slowly. Less rest also means your immune system doesn’t release as many cytokines, an immune system protein that is released while you sleep. The overall result is that your body isn’t as strong as it could be and has trouble fighting off infection.
If you’re experiencing one or more of these signs, you may not be getting enough sleep. Consider how you might increase the amount of rest you get each night in order to improve not only how well you’re able to function but how happy you are each day.