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5 Ways Not Getting Enough Sleep Hurts Your Health and Appearance

5 Ways Not Getting Enough Sleep Hurts Your Health and Appearance

Are you a night owl or an early bird? It does not really matter which one you are, provided that you get enough sleep. The recommended dose is about 7.5 hours a sleep but some people can thrive on less. It is also important that you have a regular sleep schedule which will benefit your health.

Scientists and researchers have done quite a lot of work on why staying up late is bad for your health, so if you are starting to stay up late on a regular basis, it might be a good idea to consider the following risks.

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1. You may damage your immune system

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have been studying the effects of irregular sleeping patterns on our immune system. They carried out experiments which show that an overproduction of T cells caused by irregularities in the wake sleep cycle can put the immune system out of sync. That causes inflammation which is a perfectly normal reaction. But when this condition becomes chronic, this can lead to all sorts of diseases which range from diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis to many others. The basic message from Dr. Barry Sears’ book, called The Anti-Inflammation Zone: Reversing the Silent Epidemic That’s Destroying Our Health, is that total wellness is the absence of inflammation.

2. You may damage your brain cells for good

How many times as a student did you stay up really late to prepare for a test? You probably loaded up with caffeine and various types of stimulants to keep you awake. Scientists now have found that by depriving mice of sleep, the part of the brain responsible for staying alert and thinking was irrevocably damaged. Sleeping extra long hours later did not repair the damage either.

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In another experiment at MIT, the researchers found that sleep can actually help you to consolidate learning. By depriving your brain of this essential rest, you are actually reducing your brain’s ability to learn.

3. You may gain weight

If you are worried about your weight, staying up late is not really a good idea. First of all, you are awake for that much longer. Hunger rears its ugly head so you have to eat something.

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But a much more important factor is your metabolism. It slows down when you do not get enough sleep. One survey found that people who were getting by with just 6 hours a sleep a day were 30% more likely to become overweight than those who were getting the normal amount of 7 or 8 hours.

4. You may have more wrinkles

Staying up late and cutting back on sleep will not do your skin any good. The reason is a pretty simple one. One of the main hormones we produce when stressed out is cortisol. This has been called the ‘death hormone’ because it is linked to the decline of every cell in our body. In addition, the more we age, the more cortisol we produce. The skin is in the frontline as the collagen (which makes up about 90% of your skin) and keeps it firm, gets trounced by cortisol. The result is a lot more wrinkles, rather dull skin and more dark circles under the eyes.

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One solution is to get more shut eye because when we sleep, we produce the HGH (human growth hormone) which actually helps to counter the disastrous effects of the cortisol.

5. You are adding to your stress

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America has provided some fascinating research on how lack of sleep may alter your gene function. They have calculated that staying up late and getting less sleep has a deleterious effect on as many as 700 genes in the human body. This has a negative effect on your metabolism but more importantly on your reaction to stress. This ties in very well with other research which shows that reducing sleep may also alter hormonal levels which limit our coping mechanisms with difficult emotional experiences. All this builds up stress and anxiety.

As we have seen, staying up late is just not worth it. The best thing to guarantee a good night’s sleep is to avoid upsetting the wake sleep cycle by using an iPhone in bed. If you are worried about waking up to the sound of an awful alarm clock, forget it. All you have to do is buy a dawn simulator clock which will gently wake you with a simulated natural sunrise very quietly. Sleep well!

Featured photo credit: Sleeping/Pedro Robeiro Simoes via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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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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