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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 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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