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10 Signals From Your Body Telling You Should Sleep More

10 Signals From Your Body Telling You Should Sleep More

Sleep deprivation is so much a part of American culture that many people don’t even see it as a problem — and some people will actually brag about how little they can “get by” on. But the truth is that there are serious consequences to not getting enough zzzz’s at night: the Sleep Foundation notes that, each year, there are 100,000 car accidents, 76,000 injuries and 1,500 deaths that occur due to not getting enough rest.

Here are ten important things that can happen when you don’t get enough sleep:

1. Weight Gain

Multiple studies have shown a link between weight gain and lack of sleep. In one study, people who were sleep deprived ate 300 more calories a day than when they were able to get a full night’s sleep — and those 300 calories can add up over time.  Also, lack of sleep causes the body to become stressed, which increases levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that signals that body that it needs to put on fat.

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2. Impaired Thought Processes

Most people realize that they tend to feel foggier or less able to concentrate if they have had a late night. This is because going without even one night’s sleep can decrease alertness and other mental processes by 32%; with one study even finding that over a lifetime, the brains of those who are chronically sleep-deprived become smaller and less dense, affecting many important mental processes.

3. Emotional Problems

Again, most people can tell that they feel crankier if they have been up late the night before.  And multiple studies have backed this up, showing a link between sleep deprivation and less emotional control and the ability to cope with stress.  If it goes on long enough, sleep deprivation can even cause problems like depression.

4. Poor Memory

Sleep deprivation can also affect your ability to remember even very simple things — like where you left your keys or checkbook!  Studies have shown that the REM waves which people experience when they get a good night’s sleep help to boost memory and other mental functions; without a normal amount of sleep, however, these REM cycles  don’t occur.

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5. Decreased Immune System

When you do not get enough sleep, none of your body’s systems function well — and this includes your immune system. Because of this, if you are sleep-deprived, it will make you more vulnerable to everyday infections like the flu or the common cold. This can greatly decrease your quality of life and lead to missed work and other similar problems.

6. Decreased Sex Drive

Several studies have also linked a long-term lack of sleep with a decreased libido. This is because of several factors, including hormonal changes that occur in the body when it does not catch enough zzzz’s and because of the lack of energy that most people feel when they have simply not gotten enough rest.

7. Decreased Longevity

A long, healthy life is probably at the top of most people’s wish list — but chronic sleep deprivation can stop this from happening.  In one study, it was shown that women who got less than five hours of sleep per night over a lifetime were less likely to live as long as women who got adequate rest.  This is probably due to the chronic stress that sleep deprivation puts on the body.

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8. Heart Disease

Because of the link between sleep deprivation and weight gain and because not getting enough rest can also raise blood pressure levels, lack of sleep can also be a contributing factor to heart disease, which is still the number one killer for both men and women in the United States (and in many countries around the world).

9. Injuries and Accidents

The statistics quoted from the Sleep Foundation in regards to accidents and injuries are due to the fact that when people are less likely to focus, concentrate or pay attention, they are more likely to make mistakes that lead to things like accidents while driving or performing job-related activities.

10. Chronic Disease

Because of the chronic stress and associated compromising effects on the immune system of sleep deprivation, it can lead to a number of chronic diseases, and studies have linked it not only to heart disease but to strokes, obesity and mental health problems among other chronic conditions.

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Avoiding Sleep Deprivation

The consequences of sleep deprivation are severe — but the good news is, there are simple ways that you can make sure that you avoid it and give your body the rest it needs to stay healthy.  These include:

  • Planning on getting 7-8 hours of sleep most nights.
  • Trying to get to sleep and get up around the same time each day.
  • Keeping your sleep environment cool, dark and quiet.
  • Taking a warm bath or shower before bed to relax the muscles.
  • Keeping TV/electronic devices out of the bedroom.
  • Scheduling an hour or so of a quiet activity to relax before going to sleep.
  • Avoiding caffeine, sugar and heavy meals before sleep.

So don’t try to skip out on your sleep tonight!  Although it may seem difficult on a daily basis to get enough shut-eye, in the long run, it is worth it for both your happiness and your health.

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Brian Wu

Health Writer, Author

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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