We all know what a great night sleep provides. You wake up with the power and confidence to conquer anything, and you even look great and feel wonderfully on top of your game. But on the other side of the spectrum, after falling into sleep debt repeatedly, the health consequences of sleep deprivation aren’t just noticeable; they’re damaging. So, let’s learn what they are and how to prevent them from affecting our life mentally, physically, and emotionally.
6 Surprising Health Consequences of Sleep Deprivation
1. Decreased cognitive functioning
The culprit: In a nutshell, sleep deprivation negatively affects every system within our bodies. But one that’s the most noticeable, even after a day of little to no sleep, is your cognitive functioning. For example, your ability to make decisions, problem-solve, and recall information all take a beating. These effects occur because sleep deprivation exhausts your brain, causing it to struggle to operate.
How to cope: To get the best sleep, transition from your work day to sleep. Create a routine that winds down the stress and trains your brain to “It’s time to relax”. Perhaps meditate, spray lavender to incite tranquility, take a hot bath, and learn how to do progressive muscle relaxation.
2. Compromised immune function
The culprit: Have you ever wondered why your friends have X-Men superpowers and never get sick when you get sick every other month? Well, sleep deprivation could be the reason. When you sleep, your body produces an army of infection-fighting substances that wards off bacteria and viruses. However, limited sleep prevents your immune system from doing its job of protecting you.
How to cope: Sleep is always the remedy, but build your immune system by loading up on foods high in Vitamin C, drinking water daily, exercising regularly, or going the new innovative route and loading up on mushroom capsules. Chaga, turkey tail, lion’s mane, and cordyceps are superfood mushrooms that boost your immunity while providing you with a powerhouse of benefits.
3. Disrupted digestive system
The culprit: A lack of sleep affects your digestive system on many levels. For example, your hormones leptin and ghrelin, which control hunger and fullness, get disrupted after a poor night’s rest. As a result, you may overeat in the evening and become more vulnerable to weight gain. Moreover, you may feel too tired to exercise or move your body. Additionally, it lowers your body’s ability to produce insulin, making you more vulnerable to diabetes.
How to cope: Counteract this culprit two-fold: Move your body regularly through powerful plyometric exercises for beginners or yoga moves that reduce anxiety, and eat a high-protein meal at dinner. Research found a high-protein diet reduces movement-related disturbances and promotes a deeper night’s sleep.
4. Mood swings, galore
The culprit: Another effect of cognitive functioning is your mood. It takes on quite a transformation. For example, you become more impatient, high-strung, emotionally reactive, and prone to mood swings. Think happy for one second, then angry in a matter of minutes. If that’s not enough, you could also experience hallucinations and become more vulnerable to depression, anxiety, mania, suicidal thoughts, and paranoia.
How to cope: Calm the mind before bed by working through some of the stress you’re experiencing. For example, grab your journal and vent about your concerns, learn how to use rain meditation to manage arising emotions, and follow sleep hygiene tips for anxiety to help you fall asleep faster, like deep breathing techniques. All three tools will help you decompress and relax.
5. Impacted cardiovascular health
The culprit: As this article progresses, there are several consequences of sleep deprivation, and sleep, therefore, is one of the most important gifts you can give to your body and mind, heart included. When you sleep, your body can maintain cardiovascular health, ensuring your heart and blood vessels are in tip-top shape. In fact, these processes work together to reduce inflammation, maintain blood pressure, and keep your blood sugar at a balanced level. However, on the flip side, you become more vulnerable to scary consequences like a heart attack or stroke.
How to cope: You can engage in many hobbies to ensure your heart is a happy one. For example, maintain a healthy diet, like eating heart-healthy Mediterranean dinner recipes and prioritizing stress-relieving hobbies that reduce anxiety, such as hiking, dancing, painting, and moving your body. Additionally, ask your doctor for a picture of your heart at your next appointment. While you may need to see a cardiologist to achieve this goal, seeing your heart and hearing it will create a stronger mind-body connection and motivation to treat it better. It works. Trust us.
6. Imbalanced hormones
The culprit: Did you know your hormones play a role in whether or not you receive adequate sleep? It’s true. For example, melatonin assists in controlling your circadian rhythm, your sleep-wake cycles. Additionally, not sleeping well creates higher-than-normal levels of cortisol in the morning, disrupting estrogen and progesterone, which can further lead to a slower thyroid. Everything is connected.
How to cope: To ensure everything is running smoothly, learn how to reset your circadian rhythm for the best sleep, aim for at least 7 to 9 hours, avoid missing sleep to binge-watch Netflix or go out with a friend, remove all electronics from your room, and use a white-noise machine to reduce unwanted sounds. You could also discover your sleep animal chronotype to help you balance your day-night routine. For example, everyone is different, and you could be a lion that sleeps best by 10 pm. Even more, why not cycle sync your life and practice full body cycle synching workouts? Doing so can help balance your hormones, increase your mood, and generally lead to a healthier, happier life. Give it a holistic shot when improving your sleep quality. It’s worth it.
There you have it! The consequences of sleep deprivation and tips to cope. However, if you continue to experience sleep problems, speak with your doctor for support. You could be experiencing an underlying health condition or sleep disorder affecting your ability to receive the stellar life-changing sleep you deserve.
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