Do you find yourself often feeling sluggish, distracted or forgetful? Perhaps you don’t feel as optimistic as you used to, or maybe your skin is starting to look a bit sallow and dry. In an effort to accomplish everything in our hectic daily schedules, sleep is often an afterthought. Although this may not seem like a big deal, the consequences of inadequate sleep can lead to everything from downright depressing to dangerous.
The National Sleep Foundation conducted a thorough two-year study led by 18 top scientists and researchers. The results of this study displayed that adults require 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night in order to function optimally. Once we begin attaining less sleep than this, several significant things happen:
Energy and memory impairment: Think about every electronic device you own – They all need to be recharged in order to function correctly. People are very much the same; our resources are gradually drained throughout the day and sleep is our time to replenish and repair. Without adequate sleep, our cognitive abilities suffer resulting in memory impairment, generalized lack of awareness and low energy.
Depression and increased anxiety: Insomnia shares a stronger link to depression than any other factor. In fact, a study conducted in 2005 revealed that individuals who experience insomnia are five times more likely to become depressed than those who receive quality sleep. Anxiety has also been proven to share a strong correlation with inadequate sleep because our bodies are less capable of handling stress.
Accident risk increases significantly: For the same reason that causes memory impairment, a lack of quality sleep decreases cognitive functioning and brain activity. Several highly notable disasters, a couple of which include the Exxon Valdez oil tanker and the explosion of Challenger, have been found to share a critical connection with sleep deprivation. Many medical and automobile accidents share a strong correlation with this same factor.
Weight gain: Sleep is a critical time for hormonal functioning to rebalance, and science is finding that hormones share a very strong link with an individual’s weight. Cortisol (the stress hormone) increases when we are sleep deprived, causing our body to store fat. Leptin (the hunger regulating hormone) is decreased and HGH (a metabolism and muscle boosting hormone) is not fully activated when we do not attain enough quality rest. A study conducted in 2004 actually showed that individuals who slept less than six hours per day were 30% more likely to be obese than those who slept 7-9 hours.
Reduced immune function: Have you noticed that you are more likely to catch a cold or that your allergies are worse when you don’t sleep well? A lack of sleep can wreak havoc on our immune systems, causing illness and discomfort.
Increased risk of disease: Because our body repairs itself and balances its hormones while we sleep, a chronic lack of quality sleep has been proven to show a correlation with diseases such as heart disease, heart attacks, heart failure, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and cancer.
The points mentioned exemplify only some of the detrimental health effects that a lack of sleep causes. Bloating, digestive problems, skin aging and more are other impacts of chronic sleep deprivation. Do not fear, however! Several simple steps can be taken to maximize quality sleep potential. These including implementing physical activity throughout the day, eating well and avoiding heavy meals before bed, developing and sticking to a sleep schedule, avoiding electronics and bright lights before bed, avoiding caffeine and alcohol and practicing relaxation prior to going to bed.
If you implement the strategies above and still feel unrested, hormonal imbalances may be the culprit. Visit http://www.youngagaininstitute.com/ for more information.