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15 Hair-Raising Consequences of Sleep Deprivation

15 Hair-Raising Consequences of Sleep Deprivation

We live in a time when sleep is just a substitute of coffee for people who have too much free time on their hands. We all try to squeeze as many things into our daily schedule as possible. Theoretically, we all know that we need more sleep, but there are so many matters that require our urgent presence. But it turns out that we might be doing ourselves a grave disservice.

It’s time to face the cold and cruel reality and recognize sleep deprivation as the archenemy of our well-being. Raise your pillows! This is your wake-up call (pun so absolutely intended).

Let’s take a look at what will happen if you neglect your sleep:

1. You will be ugly.

Shocking, isn’t it?! Well, not really. I can bet that you’ve never heard anyone complimenting your swollen eyelids, pale skin and droopy corners of the mouth. And that’s precisely what scientists from Karolinska Institute in Stockholm have confirmed in their study titled Cues of Fatigue: Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Facial Appearance.

Ten participants of the study were kept awake for 31 hours. Subsequently, their before and after pictures were assessed by 40 observers. The verdict was, of course, unanimous. All of the participants were perceived as less health, sadder, and more fatigued after the 31-hour period of sleeplessness.

2. You will be drunk.

You might not be literally drunk, but it has been estimated that “17 hours of sustained wakefulness was equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.05%.” (Drowsy Driving Prevention by Siobhan Kuhar, MD, PhD, DABSM).

Sleepiness has comparable impact on our mind to alcohol (minus fun factor of course)–it decreases awareness, impairs judgment and slows reaction time.

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Sleep deprivation makes you drunk

    3. You will be less innovative.

    Are you planning to create a next big thing in the likes of Twitter or Facebook? There is a slim chance that you’ll succeed while suffering from sleep deprivation.

    Research conducted on a military personnel who were kept awake for two days revealed significantly reduced ability to come up with ideas about given topics [May, J., Kline, P. (1987) Measuring the effects on cognitive abilities of sleep loss during continuous operations. British Journal of Psychology].

    4. Your resting blood pressure will increase.

    There is a growing body of research confirming that sleep deprivation leads to increased blood pressure (Fujikawa et al., 2009). What’s more, for people with hypertension as little as even half a night of sleep can lead to the same result (Lusardi et al., 1996).

    5. You will be dumber.

    I think that we all have experienced it at some point in our lives–even small amounts of sleeplessness affect our cognitive functions.

    study conducted in 2004 showed that those deprived of sleep for 24 hours have trouble remembering, and difficulty concentrating. So say goodbye to proper reasoning and your problem-solving skills! What’s more, even one night of sleep loss will reduce your ability to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information.

    6. You will get sick.

    During sleep, the immune system produces cytokines–proteins which combat various types of viruses. Their number increases when your body needs protection from bacteria.

    Sleep deprivation means that we are more prone to disease and virus attacks as the level of cytokines drop (Susan Zafarlotfi, PhD, clinical director, Institute for Sleep and Wake Disorders, Hackensack University Medical Center, N.J.).

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    You will get sick

      7. You will look old.

      That’s right. You can spend all you want on magical beauty products but it won’t help you if you’re sleep deprived.

      Why?

      Stress increases the production of a hormone called cortisol, which increases sebum secretion and contributes to the attacks of acne. Sleep plays a key role in the process of skin regeneration. While you sleep, stress hormones return to normal levels and give cells time to repair and regenerate.

      The study included premenopausal women, aged 30-49 years, half of whom were classified as having poor quality sleep. Several tests have confirmed that the dermal tissue of sleep deprived women have twice as many internal indicators of aging, such as wrinkles, blemishes, low level of firmness and elasticity (Effects of Sleep Quality on Skin Aging and Function, University Hospitals Case Medical Center)

      8. You will kill your sex drive.

      If your libido drops, it is possible that you are not getting enough sleep. Fatigue, depleted energy and increased tension are usual culprits. But for men with sleep apnea another factor comes into play.

      A study published in 2002 (Lavie, P. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism; vol 87: pp 3394-3398.) suggests that men suffering from this condition have abnormally low levels of testosterone.

      How to kill your libido

        9. You will get fat.

        I know it’s a bit depressing, but it turns out that losing sleep can make you gain weight.

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        The fact that people who sleep more are less likely to be overweight has been confirmed by many studies (Stephanie M. Greer, Andrea N. Goldstein, Matthew P. Walker. The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain. Nature Communications, 2013; 4 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3259). Research has shown that people who sleep less than four hours a day are more likely to be obese by an average of 73% than the ones who sleep normally.

        Why is that?

        Hormones. Those pesky hormones! Hunger signals in the brain are controlled by ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin sends a signal to the brain that it’s time to eat. On the other hand, leptin, a hormone produced in adipose tissue, reduces appetite and causes the feeling of satiety. When we are tired, the level of ghrelin in our bloodstream increases while the level of leptin decreases.

        10. You will feel cold.

        Make sure you have your jumper handy. Sleep deprivation slows down your metabolism, which in turn lowers your body temperature (M Suzanne Stevens, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Neurology, Medical and Laboratory Director of Sleep Medicine Clinic, University of Kansas: Normal Sleep, Sleep Physiology, and Sleep Deprivation).

        11. You will get depressed.

        According to statistics, patients with sleep problems are more likely to develop a wide array of mood disorders. Take your pick: Irritability? Check. Mood swings? Check. Anxiety? Double check!

        What’s more, the risk of depression among sleep deprived patients is four times higher than among healthy subjects. If the period of insomnia lasts long enough, it can even lead to suicidal thoughts (National Sleep Foundation: “Teens and Sleep,” “ABCs of ZZZZs — When you Can’t Sleep,” “2005 Adult Sleep Habits and Styles.”).

        12. You will damage your bones.

        Ok, I admit, it might be a little bit far-fetched. So far it’s been proven true among rats. In a 2012 study, researchers found changes to bone mineral density and bone marrow in these little creatures after they were kept awake for 72 days. It’s speculated that the inability to repair bone damage while being sleep deprived might be also true for us (Everson CA, Folley AE, Toth JM., Chronically inadequate sleep results in abnormal bone formation and abnormal bone marrow in rats).

        13. You will be clumsy.

        Don’t even think about showing your friends cool butterfly knife tricks after a night without proper shut-eye. According to Clete Kushida, M.D., Ph.D., director of Stanford University Center for Human Sleep Research, lack of sleep compromises our balance and depth perception, as well as dulls our reflexes. In other words, it’s bad for our  motor skills.

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        14. You will be overly emotional.

        Does the picture of this puppy brings tears to your eyes? Then get a grip on yourself, or on the pillow since it turns out that lack of sleep makes us emotionally volatile.

        One of the studies conducted among 26 participants has showed a 60% rise in the amygdala activity (compared to well-rested volunteers), which is responsible for processing fear and anxiety (Seung-Schik Yoo, Ninad Gujar, Peter Hu, Ferenc A. Jolesz and Matthew P. Walker, The human emotional brain without sleep — a prefrontal amygdala disconnect).

        You will be overly emotional

          15. You will live shorter.

          Numerous studies report that sleep deprivation causes increase in mortality even after adjusting for other medical conditions that affect sleep and death rates, such as obesity, alcohol and depression, as well as for age, race, education and body mass index.

          A 2010 study established that men who slept for less than six hours a night were four times more likely to die over a 14-year period (The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Insomnia with Short Sleep Duration and Mortality).

          Time for a new resolution

          I don’t know how about you, but I solemnly swear that I’ll at least try to sleep more. It’s worth it.

          Need help? Here are some great tips to get some quality shut-eye.

          Have you noticed any of these symptoms in yourself or maybe have some interesting story to share as a warning? Let us know in the comments.

          Featured photo credit: clock black church/Dan Shirley (Fishmonk) via rgbstock.com

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          Last Updated on September 20, 2018

          8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

          8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

          You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

          Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

          When you train your brain, you will:

          • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
          • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
          • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

          So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

          1. Work your memory

          Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

          When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

          If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

          The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

          Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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          Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

          What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

          For example, say you just met someone new:

          “Hi, my name is George”

          Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

          Got it? Good.

          2. Do something different repeatedly

          By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

          Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

          It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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          And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

          But how does this apply to your life right now?

          Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

          Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

          Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

          So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

          You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

          That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

          3. Learn something new

          It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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          For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

          Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

          You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

          4. Follow a brain training program

          The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

          5. Work your body

          You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

          Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

          Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

          Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

          6. Spend time with your loved ones

          If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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          If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

          I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

          7. Avoid crossword puzzles

          Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

          Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

          Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

          8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

          Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

          When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

          So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

          The bottom line

          Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

          Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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