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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

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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