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Last Updated on September 8, 2021

Revenge of the Lack of Sleep

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Revenge of the Lack of Sleep

“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” That’s the mantra of the work-obsessed. You may feel like sleep is an area where you can cut corners, but not getting enough sleep is bad for your health and productivity.

Approximately 90% of people don’t get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep that they need every night.[1] Like many aspects of healthy living, we tend to ignore what’s good for us until we notice negative side effects of unhealthy choices.

If you’re forgetful, tired in the middle of the day, or have trouble concentrating, you may be sleep deprived. It’s tempting to work longer hours to get more done, but the reality is that you won’t be able to maintain solid performance without rest. You’ll more likely notice a drop in your productivity as you sleep less.

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Sleep-walking through your life is dragging

Some people think they can make up for a night of poor sleep. Taking a nap the next day or sleeping in on weekends may make you feel like you’ve compensated for lost hours. If you’ve never had a health issue related to sleep deprivation, and you’ve been staying up late throughout high school and college, you might feel that this isn’t a big deal.

    Unfortunately, you can’t just make up for lost sleep. Your body does best when you’re on a regular sleep schedule. Depriving yourself of rest is not like a charge on your credit card that you can pay off later. After you’ve lost the sleep, you can’t pay off sleep-debt. Read more about Why You Can’t Pay off a Sleep Debt You’ve Accumulated Over the Week.

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    Some people say that they can get by on 6 hours or less per night. They may be more tired than they realize. Just because you’re present and conscious doesn’t mean that you’re in top condition.

      A study published on Brain and Behavior shows that our bodies sleep more efficiently if they have to, but our brains won’t be able to achieve peak performance.[2] In fact, the brain of a person who sleeps less than 6 hours per night behaves like they’ve had a few drinks.[3] Clearly, you won’t be able to do your best work if you aren’t well-rested.

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      You’re not yourself when you’re sleep deprived

      Only a well-rested mind has the chance to be healthy and productive.

      • Being tired makes you stubborn. Nothing makes you quite as bull-headed as wanting to take a nap. Even the most agreeable people become stubborn when they’re tired. Change requires energy, so naturally a sleep deprived person will be set in their ways.
      • Forget about being creative. When you haven’t rested, you have to work extra hard to do basic tasks. With rest, you can come up with new ways to solve problems.
      • You won’t feel motivated. Not only does your brain become less efficient after one night of poor sleep, but your drive to work also decreases.[4] Even the easiest tasks seem challenging when you’re tired.
      • Waiting around seems impossible. Patience goes out the window when you’re sleep-deprived. If you’re already tired, you may become impatient with anyone or anything that requires more effort or energy.

        Find out more about how sleep is closely related to productivity here in this article:  8 Secrets About Sleep And Productivity I Wish I Knew Earlier

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        Break the sleep-deprived cycle

        There’s still a lot that we don’t understand about sleep, but we know that our brains need it to function well. Just like your body needs to recharge after physical effort, your brain also needs real breaks to restore your energy.

        Your mind has to rest in order to solve problems. If you focus on an issue for too long, you get tunnel vision. Allow yourself to enter diffused thinking mode, in which your brain works on the problem while you are doing other things. When you’re struggling, taking a break or sleeping on the problem is the best thing to do. Take a look at this article to find out Why Sleeping on a Difficult Problem Helps You Get the Answer.

        Inspired to set yourself up for sleep success? Try Lifehack’s CEO daily routine: Poor Sleep Quality Comes from All the Things You Do Since Morning

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        Being sleep deprived may not seem bad on the surface, but it can cause a lot of health and productivity problems for you. You can’t be the best version of yourself without rest.

        Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

        Reference

        More by this author

        Jolie Choi

        Having experienced her own extreme transformation process, Jolie strongly believes that staying healthy takes determined and consistent action.

        Revenge of the Lack of Sleep Why You Can’t Pay off a Sleep Debt You’ve Accumulated Over the Week The Only Music That Really Eases Stress and Pain You Probably Forgot To Do This If You Can’t Sleep At Night How to Stop Your Thoughts From Running Inside Your Head and Fall Asleep in 8 Minutes

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        1 Why Am I So Sleepy And How to Stop Feeling Tired? 2 Poor Sleep Quality Comes from All the Things You Do Since Morning 3 Revenge of the Lack of Sleep 4 Why You Can’t Pay off a Sleep Debt You’ve Accumulated Over the Week 5 Is It Possible to Repay Your Sleep Debt? Why Being Well Rested Matters

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        Last Updated on January 18, 2022

        How to Improve Digestion: 6 Ways For Stressful People

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        How to Improve Digestion: 6 Ways For Stressful People

        Does your digestive system seem off lately? Or has it been like that for a while? Have you been experiencing feelings of stress or burnout? If the answer to both these questions is yes, it could be the stress that’s driving your digestive system out of whack. You might also be wondering how you can improve your digestion.

        Studies show that your stress levels can wreak havoc on both your mind and body.[1] One of the biggest ways that stress can impair your body’s condition is by disrupting the performance of your digestive system, resulting in a variety of adverse health consequences.

        How Stress Affects Digestion

        Some of the most common digestive issues caused by stress include heartburn, acid reflux, ulcer, diarrhea, and indigestion. Stress can also indirectly trigger the development of irritable bowel syndrome by affecting your immune system.

        Researchers have also shown that individuals already suffering from IBS tend to have frequent flare-ups of systems when they are under considerable stress.[2] Conditions such as IBS and other gastrointestinal tract diseases are considered stress-sensitive disorders. Effective treatment usually entails the patient learning to cope with and manage their stress levels.[3]

        A scientific review also discovered that there could be a strong correlation between high levels of stress and eating disorders, such as overeating and obesity.[4] When an individual is experiencing stress, their adrenal glands release cortisol, which is also known as the stress hormone. This hormone is known to increase appetite, leading to overeating and other related eating disorders. People with high cortisol levels are more likely to consume foods with high fat and/or sugar content, resulting in more digestive issues and weight gain.

        Effectively reducing your stress levels can help reduce inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract and lower the sensitivity of your gut. Moreover, lower stress levels contribute to easing any gastrointestinal distress you may be experiencing, while at the same time optimizing nutritional uptake.

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        If you find that your stress levels are high affecting your digestion, here are some tips that can help heal your gut.

        1. Increase Your Level of Physical Activity

        One way to boost your digestion and, at the same time, lower your stress levels is by engaging in moderate physical activity regularly. Physical activity helps increase blood flow to the different parts of your digestive system, which makes it easier for food to move along the digestive tract while improving the efficiency of the digestive muscles.

        This movement of food along the digestive tract is known as peristalsis. Common signs that your peristalsis is not working optimally include constant constipation and diarrhea, and in some extreme situations, motility disorder.

        Movement and exercise are also important in triggering the release of endorphins, which help relieve tension and are considered natural pain relievers. Endorphins are also quite effective at boosting one’s sleep quality, which is essential in combatting high levels of stress.

        Physical activities that are known to improve digestion include regular running, walking, and biking. Yoga poses that focus on improving posture and alignment are also helpful in easing and eradicating gastrointestinal distress and act as a potent stress reliever.

        2. Consider Foods That Are Natural Stress Relievers

        Scientists have also discovered that some foods naturally contain mood-boosting properties. Consuming such foods can help relieve your stress symptoms while still providing your body with critical nutrients for optimal health.

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        Almonds, for instance, contain high levels of magnesium, a mineral that has been proven to help manage cortisol levels in the body. Almonds also contain high levels of vitamin B, which, together with magnesium, help in increasing the production of serotonin, a powerful mood stabilizer and feel-good hormone.

        Moreover, low levels of serotonin in the body have been linked to the development of irritable bowel syndrome, GERD, and duodenal ulcers, as well as episodes of bloating, cramping, constipation, and diarrhea.[5]

        Dark chocolate is another type of snack that can help boost your digestion and bring down your stress levels. It is considered a highly efficient mood booster, but it also has a direct impact on your body’s digestive system. For starters, dark chocolate has a high concentration of flavonoids, a major antioxidant agent.

        This chocolate also has high fiber content, mainly because of the cocoa used in production. When the gut bacteria ferment the antioxidants and fiber contained in the dark chocolate, anti-inflammatory compounds are released.[6] These compounds are not only essential in fighting inflammation within your digestive system, but they also play a crucial role in improving cardiovascular function and combatting inflammation-related disorders throughout your body.

        Cocoa has also been shown to trigger the production of more healthy microbes in the colon, a further boost to your digestive system. It is also highly recommended to eat foods that are rich in probiotics and prebiotics. These compounds are critical in the production of good gut bacteria.

        The abundance of good bacteria in the gut is essential for proper digestion of food and controlling inflammation within your digestive system and other parts of the body. Examples of foods rich in probiotics include yogurt, kombucha, kefir, tempeh, and natto.[7] Fruits and vegetables rich in prebiotics include the likes of onions, asparagus, garlic, and bananas. Consider making these gut-boosting foods part of your regular diet for enhanced digestive performance.

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        3. Try Probiotic Supplements

        Probiotics can also help improve your digestion. If you find that you don’t like probiotic foods or find them difficult to obtain, try a probiotic supplement instead. Research has shown probiotics to have remarkable effects on digestion, stress levels, immunity, and much more.[8]

        Look for a probiotic that uses time-release tablets as these are more likely to deliver the probiotic bacteria safely past your stomach acid. Most probiotics in capsules are damaged or destroyed before they reach your intestines.

        4. Avoid Foods That Can Impair Digestion

        Just as there are good foods that can help improve digestion and simultaneously provide stress relief, there are foods that can wreak havoc on your digestive system.

        Remember, when you are experiencing high levels of stress, your appetite increases, and you are more inclined to consume foods with a lot of (added) sugar and fats. Both these things are known to increase inflammation in people’s digestive systems, resulting in a variety of GI issues like constant bloating, diarrhea, and excessive gas.

        Other major food culprits that can disrupt your digestive function include processed bread, white chocolate, coffee, and highly acidic foods.

        5. Identify and Avoid Your Stress Triggers

        An examination into what triggers your high-stress levels can help you identify these factors, and allow you to mitigate their impact on your physical and mental well-being.

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        Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of therapy that helps you uncover the source of your negative thinking as well as the triggers that cause your stress levels to elevate. CBT has been shown to reduce stress in individuals with IBS. Consequently, these individuals suffered fewer IBS symptoms. This demonstrates the effectiveness of therapy in minimizing stress, which then directly boosts the digestive health of the individual.[9]

        Meditation and mindfulness are also powerful techniques that can help you ease your stress levels. Studies have also shown that these practices can also help ease inflammation across the body, including along your gastrointestinal tract. Meditating as well as doing some breathing exercises before eating can help relax you, which in turn allows your digestive system to function optimally.

        6. Quit Smoking and Excessive Consumption of Alcohol

        Our stress coping techniques can also significantly impair our digestive function. If you are using cigarettes and/or alcohol to cope with your stress, you are inadvertently introducing a host of dangerous chemicals that will affect your digestive health.

        Smoking and alcohol consumption have been linked to a variety of GI diseases including heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease, peptic ulcers, gallstones, pancreatitis, liver diseases, and Crohn’s disease.[10] It’s imperative that you look for healthier stress coping mechanisms, such as meditation and exercise to avoid exposing your digestive system to dangerous compounds.

        Final Thoughts

        If you’re wondering how to improve your digestion, the first thing you should know is that your stress levels actively impact how well your digestive system functions. Addressing your stress triggers, through exercise, therapy, and physical activity will help bring down your stress levels and allow your body’s digestive system to function optimally.

        Moreover, consume foods that are good for your digestion, including foods rich in magnesium, vitamin B, serotonin, fiber, and antioxidants. Lastly, avoid stress coping mechanisms that put your digestive system in jeopardy, like smoking or excessive consumption of alcohol.

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        More Tips on How to Improve Digestion

        Featured photo credit: Eugene Chystiakov via unsplash.com

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