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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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