Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 14, 2021

Signs Your Lack of Sleep Is Killing You (And How to Improve It)

Signs Your Lack of Sleep Is Killing You (And How to Improve It)

You hear it over and over again like a broken record: get good sleep on a daily basis, or you’ll suffer the consequences. Genetically, there are the lucky few who can get away with a lack of sleep and still function at a high level. Let’s face it though—that probably isn’t you.

Getting great (or at least good) sleep requires a proactive approach, and most people aren’t wired to create a strategic approach to sleeping well.

Waking up tired isn’t just about a horrible feeling; it affects your health, your mood, and your cognitive functioning. It’s safe to say we aren’t at our peak performance under the influence of a lack of sleep. As much as we love coffee or any source of caffeine, the solution lies in your ability to change your patterns.

The good news is that it’s completely within your control. I’ll show you several strategies you can implement to gain the upper hand in your quest to obtain a proper night’s sleep.

Signs of a Lack of Sleep

The alarm yells, and you hit the snooze button, hoping for a small window of reprieve. It works until you’re jolted awake by the consistent efficiency of the alarm clock again. So much for hoping it suddenly breaks so you have an excuse to sleep in.

You begrudgingly get up after the third snooze cycle, haphazardly making your way into the kitchen to start brewing that cup of coffee you so desperately need. All the while you’re swearing at yourself, decrying that this is in fact the last time you’re going to go to bed this late.

With the liquid injection of caffeine taking effect, it’s smooth sailing in the morning, but before you know it, lunch is around the corner, and you’re downing some carb-heavy meal with your colleagues. With a belly full, you settle back in to focus, and like clockwork, your eyes shut and your head nods as you fight a losing battle with the nap gods.

You somehow weather this storm, wondering why companies don’t allow siestas that you always hear so many positive things about from your Spanish friends.

It’s now time to head home, and after fighting some traffic that routinely rears its ugly head, you’re back at your place. You’re exhausted mentally and physically. Besides playing with the kids and talking with your significant other, you’ve got just enough energy to eat dinner. But of course you conveniently forgot to pick up the dry cleaning on the way home[1].

Does this sound like you?

Advertising

common symptoms of sleep deprivation

    If you paid attention to the hypothetical and quite common situation above, you’ll notice a number of areas that sleep affects: your career, personal life, physical state, and mental state.

    Dark eye circles, wrinkles, brain fog, a lack of focus, and forgetting things are some examples of far-reaching effects a lack of sleep has in almost every area of your life.

    Lack of Sleep and the Brain

    In today’s fast-paced and highly stimulating society, it’s a full time job in itself trying to stay on track and keep your focus on the task at hand. We’re the masters of multi-tasking, and that’s not always a good thing.

    When you’re tired, your cognitive functioning decreases as a result of neurons (the basic building block cells of the brain) having trouble communicating properly. This leads to temporary mental lapses that affect both memory and your personal visual perception[2].

    In other words, you become more forgetful. You get distracted more easily and lose focus. You can’t think straight, better known as brain fog.

    How long does it take for all this to happen? Just one bad night of sleep.

    How Lack of Sleep Affects Your Health

    You’re at an increased risk of inviting in many health problems in the long-term if you can’t manage to get the right amount of sleep each night.

    Here are some of the effects you could experience:[3]

    Cardiovascular Disease

    You have a 48% increased chance of heart disease, including an elevated risk of a heart attack is you are experiencing a consistent lack of sleep.[4]

    High Blood Pressure

    Your blood pressure could skyrocket, induced by both stress and low sleep.

    Stroke

    With your brain constantly fatigued and not able to properly repair itself overnight, your chances of stroke increase.

    Advertising

    Diabetes

    You’re at nearly three times the risk for Type II diabetes.

    Lower Sex Drive

    Your partner probably won’t be a fan of this, and neither will you. Your sex drive plummets when you’re groggy, and for good reason: you just don’t have the energy to accomplish simple tasks, let alone get frisky.

    Higher Chance of Depression

    Your energy levels go down, and your outlook on life can take a hit. In fact, getting too much or too little sleep is usually the first sign of mental health issues.[5]

    Weight Gain

    Weight gain is another side effect of a lack of sleep. Your glucose metabolism takes a beating, along with the hormones that regulate your overall metabolism, shown through decreased leptin levels and increased ghrelin levels.[6]

    Leptin acts as an appetite suppressant and is released when you’re full, while ghrelin is released from the stomach in response to fasting and promotes the feeling of hunger.

    Decreased Immune Function

    The immune system takes a big hit when you’re consistently running low on a good night’s rest. In fact, you’re three times more likely to catch a cold, according to John Hopkins Medicine.

    How to Get Enough Sleep

    With all the things that can potentially go wrong with a lack of sleep, it’s no surprise we struggle when we’re tired. Luckily, we can actively combat our fatigued ways through a variety of time-tested methods, hacks, and tips,

    Establish a (Short) Nightly Routine

    Our brain loves habits and routines. This is, actually, a good and a bad thing. The brain doesn’t know the difference between what’s considered productive and what’s a waste of time, so it’s up to you to establish the difference between the good and the bad.

    One excellent habit is to create a nighttime routine, which effectively tricks the brain into bedtime mode by starting a process of chemical reactions that signal you’re about to lay down soon.

    Don’t worry; this is nothing that requires some elaborate, long process. It ideally should be something short. You can include some of the following:

    • Meditating for a few minutes
    • Sitting down and reflecting on how the day went
    • Thinking about some things you’re grateful for, journaling, or writing
    • Reading for 15-30 minutes
    • Getting involved in a relaxing hobby

    By establishing a routine and following through on it consistently, you’ve successfully associated that routine with sleep. You can take a look at the night routine of Lifehack’s CEO as reference: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    Advertising

    If you notice, none of the above habits involve technology. It’s been found in many research studies that blue light emitted by our screens can disrupt your sleep cycle[7].

    If you happen to find yourself on the computer in the evenings, do yourself a favor and install a program called Flux. As the night wears on, Flux continually erases the blue light more and more until it’s virtually eliminated from your screen, helping you avoid the sleep-blocking blue light.

    Don’t Go to Bed Hungry (And Do Eat Carbs)

    Most sources will agree that eating late lends itself to disaster — your body is allocating resources trying to digest a heavy meal, and you’ll have trouble falling asleep. That heavy, pressing feeling on your stomach as you try to turn out the lights just doesn’t work for many people.

    As a result, you’ll read about how staying away from food for a few hours before bed is the smart choice, especially when it involves carbs.

    But studies have shown that eating carbs at night (especially starchy carbs) can actually help you fall asleep faster.[8] Tryptophan and serotonin, two brain chemicals involved in sleep, are naturally boosted after eating carbs. Ever felt like taking a nap after a big, starchy meal? You get the idea behind it now.

    Now, that doesn’t mean you should eat a pepperoni pizza two hours before bed, but swearing off carbs after 3 PM isn’t the solution either. Don’t be afraid of them, and make sure you aren’t going to bed hungry. Be reasonable.

    Reserve Bed for Sleeping

    Your bed should only be used for sleeping and, aside from that, a little friskiness. Anything else has no place there.

    Trying to study or read in bed is bad news for your sleep cycle and may worsen your lack of sleep. When your head hits that pillow, your brain needs to know that it’s sleep time, not social media time, or reading time, or even studying time.

    Remember how earlier I suggested that executing a relaxed nighttime routine or habit tricks your brain into starting the process of releasing sleep-inducing hormones, as it expects to shut down soon for some slumber?

    One of those habits is getting the brain to believe that sleep is right around the corner once you lay in your bed. If you begin to associate your bed with activities such as reading or studying, your brain may fail to make the right association.

    Listen to a Podcast or Audiobook

    Not a fan of reading actual books? Soak it in through your ears, and there’s no better time before bed. It’s a chance to kick back, relax, and potentially even close your eyes as you listen to an audiobook of your choice.

    Advertising

    If you’d prefer not to pay for the audio version of a book, there are also thousands of podcasts available for free. Ranging from storytelling to personal development and anything in between, there’s never been a better selection of tools at your disposal.

    Keep Your Schedule Consistent

    Whatever you do, stay consistent in order to get over a lack of sleep. Implementing a good routine or habit for a week and then falling off won’t do you much good. If you’re confused as to why something isn’t working, focus on your execution.

    Things like this take time — you can’t expect a 180-degree turnaround after a week or two. This is especially true when you’ve already tricked your brain into association with a bad habit that you’re trying to undo.

    Neuroplasticity, the ability for the brain cells to form connections based on repetition, is a real thing. Like anything, it can be good or bad — if you’ve implemented great habits, neuroplasticity is an awesome thing. If you’ve implemented bad habits, it’s a bad thing.

    Fortunately, it’s completely possible to undo bad connections and form good ones with a little bit of patience and grit. Here’s how you can learn to break a bad habit: How I Broke 3 Bad Habits in Less Than 2 Months

    The Bottom Line

    If you could start making changes today to help you get better sleep, what would you do? If you’re consistently experiencing a lack of sleep, it’s time to implement some great sleep habits to bring yourself to peak performance and improve your quality of life.

    Developing a routine, listening to audiobooks or podcasts, keeping a consistent schedule, and reserving the bed for sleeping only are just a few of the choices at your disposal.

    It’s time to go out and get the hours of sleep you deserve.

    More on Beating a Lack of Sleep

    Featured photo credit: Zohre Nemati via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Adam Bergen

    Adam Bergen is the founder of Monday Views, a movement dedicated to showing that with focus and self-discipline, your potential is limitless.

    5 Relaxation Meditation Techniques for When You’re Stressed Signs Your Lack of Sleep Is Killing You (And How to Improve It) The Causes of Lack of Energy (That Go Beyond Your Physical Health) 6 Simple Habits at Work That Will Instantly Boost Your Productivity

    Trending in Sleep & Rest

    1 Good Sleep Habits You Need (And Bad Ones to Avoid) for Energy 2 The Importance of Sleep Cycles (and Tips to Improve Yours) 3 Signs Your Lack of Sleep Is Killing You (And How to Improve It) 4 9 Best Sleep Tracker Apps to Help You Get Adequate Sleep 5 20 Best Guided Meditations for Sleep and Insomnia

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on March 3, 2021

    Benefits of Water: Science-Backed Reasons to Stay Hydrated

    Benefits of Water: Science-Backed Reasons to Stay Hydrated

    You may already be aware that you should drink plenty of water each day, but do you know why? Yes, it’s true that you cannot stay alive for very long without drinking water, but keeping well hydrated is also essential for general day-to-day health and well-being. The benefits of water are endless, and H20 is probably even more important than you already realize.

    This article will give you scientific and academically based benefits of water. By the end of this article, you will learn some great reasons to stay hydrated.

    The Nutritional Value of Water

    In terms of nutrition, plain water contains zero calories. This alone is a great reason to consume more of it.

    Unlike almost every other consumable, water is not a source of carbohydrates, protein, or fat.[1] Its only function is to hydrate you, and you can drink plenty of it without worrying about any weight gain.

    Often, when you feel hungry, it’s actually your body telling you that you need more water. Instead of reaching for a candy bar, try a glass of water first, and you may find that the hunger soon subsides.

    5 Scientific Benefits of Water

    Water has so many benefits for your health that it would be impossible to list all of them in this article. However, here are 5 science-backed benefits that water has for your health and why you should always stay properly hydrated.

    Advertising

    1. Keeps You at Peak Performance

    Your physical performance can suffer if you don’t drink enough water. In fact, your physical performance can be severely impacted if you lose as little as 2% of your body’s water. The result of this can be things like fatigue, loss of body temperature control, less motivation, and lethargy. Exercise will feel a lot more difficult from a mental and physical perspective in this case.

    On the other hand, studies show that a good level of hydration not only prevents the above from happening, but it may even reduce oxidative stress that comes with high intensity activities. This makes sense when you think about the fact that water makes up 80% of muscles.[2] So, stay well hydrated to remain at peak physical condition.

    2. Improve Brain Function

    Your level of hydration has a big impact on your brain function. Studies show that even a modest level of dehydration of 1-2% (of reduced water in the body) can impair many brain functions.[3] The fact that water can help you maintain focus and a good memory is just one of the many benefits of water.

    This was highlighted in a study conducted with young women at the University of Connecticut. The research shows that women who had a fluid loss of 1.36% after exercise suffered from impaired concentration, poor mood, and had more headaches.[4]

    A similar study involving young men also shows that a fluid loss of 1.59% increases feelings of fatigue and anxiety, and reduces working memory.

    3. Prevent and Treat Headaches

    This follows from the previous point that shows how important water is to brain function. Dehydration is usually the root cause of migraines in many people. However, beyond preventing dehydration, new studies show that drinking water can be an effective way of treating and even preventing headaches from happening in the first place.[5]

    Advertising

    4. Deliver Nutrients to Your Body

    Although pure water does not contain any nutrients itself, it can absorb some minerals and deliver them to your body, which is one of the best benefits of water.[6] After a workout, water acts to help your muscles recover by delivering the right amount of nutrients at the right time. This is especially important at night as that’s when most of your muscle recovery happens.

    Bottled mineral water can sometimes contain healthy minerals that your body needs like sodium, magnesium, and calcium. Just make sure you read the label to learn the exact mineral content of your bottled mineral water.

    5. Regulates Body Temperature

    Water is excellent at absorbing and transferring heat in your body. In fact, it is the primary way that the human body is able to regulate its temperature.

    Water has a relatively high heat capacity, so the water in every cell of your body can work as a shield against sudden temperature changes.[7]This is also the reason why professionals always recommend you drink plenty of water in hot climates.

    How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day?

    Now that you understand why you should drink more water, the next question is how much you need in order to receive the benefits of water. The Internet is full of uneducated responses regarding the amounts of water you need to keep your body functioning properly, and the most common response is the un-scientific 8 cups a day rule.

    However, most scientists and health professionals agree that it’s much better to drink according to your gender, weight, level of physical activity, and climate. Read this article to know how much water you should be drinking each day: How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

    Advertising

    The simple rule of thumb is to drink when you feel thirsty. Your body has evolved complex mechanisms in your brain and body to send signals when your body needs more fluid intake. Learn to listen to your thirst, and you’ll be well on your way to drinking enough water.

    How to Drink More Water

    After working out how much water you should drink in a day, you might discover that you’re not drinking enough. If this is the case, you will need to find new ways to drink more water each day. For instance, you can eat water-rich fruits, like watermelons, and make new hydration habits, like drinking a cup of water before each meal or carrying a water bottle with you to work.

    If you’ve been trying to develop healthy habits like this one but can’t get past your procrastination, check out Lifehack’s Fast-Track Class: No More Procrastination.

    If you need help to get you to drink more water, you can also check out the 3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water.

    You can even eat your water from these fruits and vegetables:[8]

    Advertising

    Ways to eat your water

      Conclusion

      Water is essential to a properly functioning body. You should proactively try to keep yourself well hydrated in order to receive the many benefits of water.

      Hydration is not the only benefit of water you will experience from maintaining a good level of daily water intake. Water can help you stay at a peak physical condition, maintain brain function, prevent headaches, and regulate your body temperature.

      Make sure you drink enough water each day to enjoy all the amazing health benefits that water has to offer.

      More on Good Hydration and Nutrition

      Featured photo credit: Nigel Msipa via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Beverage Impacts on Health and Nutrition: The Nutritional Value of Bottled Water
      [2] Sports Medicine: Hydration and Muscular Performance
      [3] The British Journal of Nutrition: Mild dehydration impairs cognitive performance and mood of men
      [4] The Journal of Nutrition: Dehydration Affects Mood In Healthy Young Women
      [5] Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice: Increased water intake to reduce headache: learning from a critical appraisal
      [6] Livestrong: Nutritional Value of Water
      [7] Sciencing: How Does Water Stabilize Temperature?
      [8] Skinny Ms: 21 Ways to Eat Your Water

      Read Next