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Last Updated on January 14, 2021

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

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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?

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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.

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    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

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    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.

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    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

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    Last Updated on August 25, 2021

    Under the Weather? 13 Immune Boosting Foods for a Quick Recovery

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    Under the Weather? 13 Immune Boosting Foods for a Quick Recovery

    Immunity truly does encapsulate the entire physiology of a person.

    When you target your immunity by eating a variety of immune boosting foods, then you really can improve your entire body, both physically and mentally.

    The immune system of a human being involves all aspects of one’s physiology and one’s daily experience. Eating certain foods can boost your health in a variety of ways. Below I outline several foods that will get you back on track if you’re feeling under the weather.

    Be sure to stock up on these foods if you’re in need of a boost.

    Immunity Boosting Superfoods

    In order to even broach the topic of foods good for one’s immune system, it’s important to consider all aspects of the human body and experience.

    What I mean by the human experience is one’s day to day mood, energy levels, and many other factors that signify how one engages with themselves and the world around them.

    Before indulging in these foods below, I suggest striving for consistency with diet, activity levels, rest, and incorporating the practice of meditation or spending time in nature as part of your daily routine as well.

    If you’re ready to feel better, not just when you’re under the weather but all the time incorporate these foods in your diet regularly.

    1. Water is a Wise Choice

    Yes I know I’m starting things seemingly simple, but one of my most popular YouTube videos discusses the importance of water!

    When I ask people how much water they drink a day, the majority of time the answer begins with ‘not enough’.

    So if you know you don’t drink enough water, why continue this pattern of behavior?

    Now if you’re one that does hit that 5+ and more (pending activity levels) 8oz glasses a day – good for you! Water is life, and that’s where I’ll leave it.

    2. Eggs: The Most Complete Protein

    Widely regarded as the universally most complete nutritional protein source, eggs are packed with Omega-3 Fatty Acids and 9 essential amino acids.

    Egg whites are rich in Vitamins D/E/K, B2, B5, B6, B12, and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper.

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    Meanwhile, egg yolks pack the calories and fats along with cholesterol, fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and lecithin.

    It’s important to note that the average medium egg contains 76 calories, 7.5g protein, 5.1g fat, 1.4g sat fat – so consider this while integrating this near perfect super food in your next dish!

    3. Raw Spinach Supports Immunity

    This leafy green is a personal favorite of mine due to its versatility and great taste!

    Spinach is loaded with vitamin C which helps fight cold, flu, and reinforce the immune system.

    It’s also quite high in antioxidants and beta-carotene, which supports our immune system in fighting infection and viruses.

    When enjoying this plentiful plant, do so raw. Its nutrients are best absorbed when the vegetable is raw; consider adding spinach as a fresh salad, rather than to a cooked dish, to reap the most immune system rewards.

    4. Turmerics Benefit on T-Cells

    Gaining popularity for its delicious taste, this powerful spice is also gaining notoriety for its anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin (which also creates the vibrant orange-yellow color).

    A study published in the Journal of Clinical Immunology notes that curcumin activates the production of T-cells, which are of the primary cells fighting on behalf of your systems immunity. [1]

    5. Garlic is Really Good for You

    This popular food not only tastes great but packs quite a punch.

    Garlic contains a compound called allicin, which boasts a variety of medicinal properties. Garlic is also not very calorie dense; 1 ounce yields about 42 calories with 1.8g protein and 9g carbs.

    Garlic also boasts Vitamin C, B6, Fiber, and Manganese.

    The properties mentioned above helps maintain healthy bones, prevent diabetes and epileptic seizures, regulate thyroid, combat osteoporosis, reduce inflammation, boost metabolism, improve cognitive function, and regulate glucose metabolism!

    So, forget about garlic breath–eat this food in abundance!

    6. Wild Salmon is Wonderful

    A personal favorite of mine, wild Alaskan salmon is one of those super foods that covers all your nutrient bases!

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    Salmon can be cooked a variety of delicious ways, and yields some of the highest immune system boosting benefits.

    Salmon contains fish oil Omega-3’s, which protect against developing heart disease and heart attack. Oils contained within such fish are quite unique in that they have Omega-3 fatty acids that are not present in any other food.

    Also consider that wild salmon contains (per 4oz) 128% Vitamin D, 95% Vitamin B12, 94% tryptophan, 62% selenium, 53% protein, 53% omega 3’s, 45% Vitamin B3, 37% phosphorus, 32% Vitamin B6, 19% choline, 14% potassium, and 8%(157) calories.

    This is one of those super foods that you could stand to have in your diet several times per week. Beyond the incredible taste, its nutritional benefits make it well worth seeking out.

    7. Essential Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    Many home cooks consider this an essential ingredient in preparing dinner. But it’s also quite good for you!

    Extra virgin olive oil is widely regarded as being a healthy addition to any kitchen, with modest amounts of Vitamins E and K and plenty of beneficial fatty acids.

    Per 100g of olive oil you can expect 14% saturated fat, 73% Monounsaturated fat, 10% Omega-6, 1% Omega-3, 72%, and 75% Vitamin K.

    It also boasts an impressive antioxidant profile. This includes the anti-inflammatory oleocanthal, as well as oleuropein, a substance that protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation.

    8. Natural Greek Yogurt Has Many Benefits

    When I talk about natural Greek yogurt, I mean the type that is not flavored in any way. Those added sugars won’t help boost immunity.

    Many people have convoluted the immunity and health benefits of natural yogurt with the all too popular sugary treats that flood grocery stores. But it’s the plain stuff that’s the best to include in your diet.

    Natural Greek yogurt not only goes great with many dishes, but it contains vast amounts of protein which will leave you feeling satisfied.

    The reason why I’ve specified ‘Greek yogurt’ is because one cup of plain, low-fat conventional yogurt typically has 5 to 10 grams of protein, where Greek yogurt averages about 13 to 20 grams of protein.

    Greek yogurt also contains essential probiotics (live microorganisms). These are bacteria microbes that help improve digestive function, the immune system, and overall gut health.

    Add natural Greek yogurt to your diet, whether as a breakfast food, a substitute for sour cream, or as an addition to a healthy smoothie.

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    9. Ginseng Tea: Chock Full of Ginsenosides

    Ginseng tea’s primary health benefits are due to the naturally occurring chemicals called ginsenosides present in the root.

    One of ginseng’s most widely understood benefits include it’s rich anti-cancer properties. [2]

    Studies also indicate that people who drink ginseng tea have a lower risk of developing cancer.

    Ginseng tea can also help relieve menstrual cramps, lower blood pressure, and improve brain function; and it has also been shown to help with sexual (erectile) dysfunction in men.

    10. Green Tea Fights Aging

    Just as powerful as ginseng tea, this extremely popular tea is rich in polyphenols that have effects like reducing inflammation and aiding in the fight against cancer.

    Green tea is in fact 30% polyphenols, including large amounts of a catechin called EGCG. Catechins are natural antioxidants that aid in the prevention of cell damage and provide several other benefits.

    EGCG, and substances like it can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, helping protect cells and molecules from damage.

    Free radicals such as these are commonly known to play a role in aging and all sorts of other diseases.

    This wonderful also tea contains small quantities of minerals that are important for overall health, so it may be worth picking up some green tea when visiting your next local tea shop.

    11. Dark Chocolate: The Delicious Superfood

    Don’t get too excited with this one – everything in moderation, of course!

    And I’m not just referring to any chocolate — I’m talking specifically about dark chocolate and cacoa nibs, which are both immune system boosting super foods.

    We’ve already covered free radicals in this article, and dark chocolate is one of those wonderful super foods that helps fight against such free radicals.

    It does this with its high antioxidant profile which is believed to neutralize free radicals and protect the body from their damage.

    Dark chocolate’s antioxidants include vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals – helpful plant compounds. Much like other immune boosting foods on this list dark chocolate will also help balance cholesterol, blood pressure, and improve heart health, and cognitive function.

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    You now have a healthy excuse to eat some dark chocolate; but, go for the lowest sugar and highest cocoa content varieties you can find to reap the most rewards.

    12. Frozen Blueberries for All!

    Personally I love adding frozen blueberries to smoothies; however, sometimes I’ll pop over to the freezer just to grab a small handful as a treat!

    Frozen blueberries are loaded with antioxidants, which come from compounds called anthocyanins; these give blueberries their purple hue.

    One really neat fact about the ice crystals that form when the berries are frozen is that they disrupt the structure of the plant tissue and make anthocyanins even more available – how cool is that? Talk about hacking blueberries!

    Even if not frozen, blueberries have one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits. They have been known to boost memory, cardiovascular system, and eyesight. The fruit also encourages a process called authophagy, or ‘cell clean-up’.

    Berries in general (raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries) are extremely high on the ORAC scale. This means they contain some of the highest levels of antioxidants, which help to fight free radicals.

    Frozen blueberries in particular may aid in defending colds and flu, as they are high in pterostilbene.

    Next time you visit your local grocery store, consider how ideal blueberries are for your immune system and general health.

    13. Raw Honey: A Natural Antioxidant

    Saving the sweetest for last!

    Pure natural raw honey follows the rest of this super food list with its antioxidant profile, however it also contains antibacterial and anti fungal properties.

    Raw honey contains antioxidants called phenolic compounds, and certain types contain just as many antioxidants as fruits and vegetables.

    Raw honey can help the body kill-off unwanted bacteria and fungus as it naturally contains hydrogen peroxide, which is a strong antiseptic. Raw honey also contains phytonutrients, commonly found in plants, which provides both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

    Aside from these wonderful benefits, raw honey can also aid with digestive issues, however this typically varies person to person.

    Indulge in Better Health

    But also, don’t forget to rest! When considering one’s overall health, it’s important to not only incorporate these immune boosting foods, but also to ensure adequate sleep, and take efforts to reduce stress.

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    Eating these immunity boosting foods will enable you to take back control of your health and prevent illness… all while satisfying your cravings!

    Reference

    [1] Journal of Immunology: Curcumin
    [2] NCBI: Ginseng for Fatigue

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