What happens when you are sleep deprived?

What happens when you are sleep deprived?

Are you ignoring what happens when you are sleep deprived? Are you sleepwalking into a health disaster? I often hear people say that they don’t need 7-9 hours sleep.

We hear it on the news too. Some of us will remember the claims that Margaret Thatcher only had 4 hours of sleep per night. And if you tune in to YouTube you will hear about ‘the hustle’! This appears to be a competition in who can be most successful on the least sleep. 

We live in a society which is telling us to work longer hours, cram more into life and sleep as little as possible. 

But what is the truth? What happens when you are sleep deprived?

 I have broken down what happens when you are sleep deprived into two sections. The effects in the short and long-term.  

What happens when you are sleep deprived in the short-term?

Your memory malfunctions

When you are asleep, your brain does all it’s filing and sorting of your experiences during the day. It forms new neural connections which help you process information. When you are sleep deprived your brain doesn’t have time to do this. As a result, you reduce your short and long-term memory function.  

Your concentration and thinking get foggy

You will have noticed that when you are sleep deprived, you are less likely to be able to solve problems. You will also be less creative. This can contribute to stress as you struggle to solve your daily list of challenges. 

You will be moodier

I am sure you have noticed how short your fuse becomes when you haven’t had enough sleep. You might have observed that you are more inclined to emotional outbursts too. Even little things can feel unmanageable when you are sleep deprived. 

You will be more accident prone

We have all seen the big warning signs on the motorway telling us to take a break. Even the government has realised that sleep deprivation and tiredness cause accidents. You may have noticed yourself that when you are sleep deprived, you are more likely to drop and spill things. If you are doing some kind of manual work or a lot of driving for a living getting enough sleep is even more vital. 

You will be off balance

And I mean, in your body! When you are sleep deprived, your coordination and balance take a knock. This makes you more likely to fall or have other accidents.

What happens when you are sleep deprived in the long-term? 

Your blood pressure will increase

When you are sleep deprived you are much more likely to have high blood pressure. This increases your chance of other health conditions like stroke and heart attack. 

You increase your risk of diabetes

When you are sleep deprived, it affects your production of insulin. This is the hormone which lowers your blood-sugar. If you don’t have enough insulin, you have too much blood-sugar and this can lead to type 2 diabetes. 

You will gain weight

Have you noticed the carbohydrate cravings which appear after a poor night’s sleep? When you are sleep deprived the chemicals which tell you when you are hungry and full go out of balance. You are more likely to overindulge and eat more unhealthy foods when you are sleep deprived. 

You increase your risk of heart disease

As I have already mentioned, sleep deprivation increases blood pressure. This contributes to heart disease. Sleep deprivation also increases chemicals in your blood linked to inflammation. Inflammation is also a contributory factor in heart disease. So, if you are sleep deprived, your risk of heart disease increases. 

Your sex drive will be low

Sleep deprivation reduces your libido. I am sure we have all experienced issues with getting in the mood when we haven’t had enough sleep. Sleep deprivation in men also reduces testosterone levels which makes things even worse.

You are more likely to develop depression and anxiety

As I mentioned above, short-term sleep deprivation makes us moody and emotional. But chronic, sleep deprivation can cause depression. Before my diagnosis of depression in March 2015, I had been sleeping about 3-5 hours per night for at least 3 months. Sadly, lack of sleep causes depression and depression can affect our ability to sleep. Sometimes it may be difficult to know which came first. 

What can you do when you are sleep deprived?

As you can see, what happens when you are sleep deprived affects your health in the short and long-term. The key thing is that most of us need 7-9 hours of sleep. If you are not getting that, it will have an impact on your health.  But don’t worry, all is not lost. In my previous blog, I shared ’10 Top Tips to Sleep Better so You Can Feel Less Stressed’. You will find something you can change to improve your sleep in that blog. And, if you still cannot sleep, please get in touch. I have worked with many clients to improve their sleep and can probably help you.

10 Top Tips to Sleep Better so You Can Feel Less Stressed

10 Top Tips to Sleep Better so You Can Feel Less Stressed

In this blog I will share my 10 top tips to sleep better so you can feel less stressed. This is an edit of a previous blog about the connection between sleep and weight. This shows how sleep can impact on more than one aspect of life. But stress and weight are only two aspects lack of sleep effects. 

Lack of sleep can contribute to issues like depression, anxiety, diabetes, heart disease and many more. Having a long-term sleep issue is also said to take 10 years off your life.  

I am sure I do not need to point out the link between stress and lack of sleep. They feed each other in a way that can make life difficult. If you haven’t had enough sleep you know how that feels. You are cranky, cannot concentrate and your memory feels foggy.

This might mean that you don’t have the best of days. Your stress levels then increase, you cannot sleep and the cycle continues.  If you are ready to break this cycle you need these ….

10 top tips to sleep better so you can feel less stressed.

Power Down

Switch off all tech, including the TV at least one hour before bed. The light from the screens prevents your body creating melatonin, the sleep hormone. Even if you do drop off with your phone in your hand the quality of your sleep will be poor. 

Avoiding Napping

If you must nap, limit it to 30 minutes before 2pm. Napping disrupts your sleep pattern and reduces your ability to sleep at night. If your energy slumps try fresh air or a walk to pick you up. 

Stop Clock Watching

If you wake in the night, stay away from the clock. If you keep saying, ‘I wake up at 3am every day’, that is exactly what will happen. 

Get Comfortable

If you want to sleep well start by making sure your mattress is comfortable and have a cool room with warm bedding. Use pillows to support your limbs, if needed and get your neck in neutral with no more than one pillow.

Save bed for two things only

Your bed is for sleeping and time with your partner! Anything else you do in bed gives your brain the message that bed is for things other than sleeping and love making. 

Establish a Routine

Try to go to bed and get up at a similar time each day (even at weekends). Your body will get into a flow with the routine and you will find yourself sleeping better. 

Watch Out for Caffeine

Have your last caffeinated drink no later than 1pm so the caffeine can leave your body before you need to sleep. Watch out for caffeine hidden in things such as chocolate and painkillers. 

Exercise at the Right Time

Exercise is great for sleep as it helps to tire out your body. Do not exercise too close to bedtime as this can disrupt your sleep and make you too awake to nod off. 

Watch What You Eat and Drink

Do not eat too late in the evening and avoid late evening heavy meals. If your digestive system is working hard it will disrupt your ability to sleep.

Get into the Light at the Right Times

Exposing yourself to daylight early on in the day helps your brain realise that it is morning and time to be awake. In a similar way, getting into the dark helps your brain know it is night and time to sleep. 

I hope you have found my 10 Top Tips to Sleep Better so You Can Feel Less Stressed, useful. As with any habit change, don’t try to change everything at once. Choose one or two things to work on first and then introduce the others one-by-one.  If you are struggling to get enough sleep, feeling stressed or would like to make a change in any other aspect of your life, please get in touch.