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6 Ways Lack Of Sleep Is Destroying Your Life

6 Ways Lack Of Sleep Is Destroying Your Life

We all know that horrible feeling that comes from lack of sleep. We’re grumpy, sluggish, foggy and completely uninterested in whatever we’re doing that particular day. However, it may come as a surprise to learn that lack of sleep can have an enormous impact on your life and not a positive one.

Here’s six reasons why you should get between 8 hours’ sleep a night.

1. Sleep Deprivation Can Cause Serious Health Problems

Sleep disorders and chronic sleep loss can put you at risk for:

  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes

According to some estimates, 90 percent of people with insomnia (sleep disorder characterized by trouble falling and staying asleep) will also have another health condition.

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2. Lack Of Sleep Can Cause Depression

This happens over time with chronic lack of sleep, lack of sleep. In a 2005 Sleep in America poll, people who were diagnosed with depression or anxiety were more likely to sleep less than six hours at night.

The most common sleep disorder, insomnia, has the strongest link to depression. In a 2007 study of 10,000 people, those with insomnia were five times as likely to develop depression as those without.

Insomnia and depression feed on each other. Sleep loss often aggravates the symptoms of depression, and depression can make it more difficult to fall asleep.

3. Lack Of Sleep Can Lead To Weight Gain

Lack of sleep can increase hunger, increase your appetite and even be linked to obesity. A study in 2004 showed that those who got less than 6 hours’sleep a night were 30% more like to become obese compared to those who got 8-9 hours’.

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Ghrelin is the chemical that stimulates appetite and Leptin is the chemical that suppresses it. Recent research shows lack of sleep causes the body to increase the production of Ghrelin and decrease the production of Leptin.

Hanger caused by lack of sleeptriggers cravings for high-fat foods, making it even more likely you’ll gain weight.

4. Lack Of Sleep Can Age Your Skin

We’re all familiar to the puffy, red eyes and sallow skin look that comes from a few missed or bad nights of sleep. For those who suffer from chronic sleep loss they can expect to get dark circles and fine lines around the eyes and lackluster skin too. This all happens because the body produces more of the stress hormone, cortisol, when you’re tired. In excess amounts cortisol can break down collagen in your skin. (That’s the stuff that keeps your face smooth and elastic.)

5. Lack Of Sleep Can Harm Your Productivity

We all find it hard to work when we’re tired but could you imagine working never having a good night’s sleep or no sleep at all?

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Lack of sleep causes us to lose concentration and interest in tasks very quickly. Our ability to focus is nearly non-existent and resilience doesn’t seem to show up at all.

This can have a serious impact on productivity and quality of work. This will lead to an increase in stress levels, being nagged at by co-workers for making mistakes, which will subsequently lead to you not liking your job. This in turn will also have a negative impact on your productivity.

6. Sleepiness Causes Accidents

It’s hard to believe that lack of sleep can cause serious and sometimes fatal accidents. Lack of sleep is a huge public safety hazard on the roads, hence the laws outlining how many hours you can drive before you’re legally required to take a break.

According to research done by ‘The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ (RoSPA) up to 20 percent of accidents involving automobiles were caused by driver fatigue and also accounted for up to 25 percent of all fatal and serious accidents.

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Drowsiness can slow reaction time as much as that of a drunk driver. Those who suffer from sleep disorders, such as those with chronic sleep loss, are 6-15 times more likely to be involved in a road traffic accident than those who don’t.

Studies also show that sleep loss and poor quality sleep can also lead to accidents and injuries at work and on the job. In one study, workers who complained about excessive daytime sleepiness had significantly more work related accidents and they also had more sick days per accident.

It’s extremely important to get a sufficient amount of sleep every night. If you suffer from lack of sleep or can’t sleep properly you should consult your doctor to see if they can help. You’ll be amazed how much of a difference sleep can make to your life and you’ll wonder how you ever functioned without it. So make sure you try and get those 8hours a night!

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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