The effects of sleep deprivation on your body and lifestyle
By Chitwan Khosla, Features Editor
Sleep is the best thing that can happen to me in a day. I love to sleep, and I never feel I have enough. A quick nap every now and then keeps me active all day long and I never miss a chance to have it; this really makes a lot of difference in my health and daily routine. Sleep is a very important biological activity that is necessary for our well-being. While we sleep, our body and mind shut off for rest and repair, and stimulate much-needed hormones in the body. A sound sleep is like treasure that everyone cherishes and desires, but not all get to enjoy.
With such busy lives when we have a lot going on, cutting down your sleep seems like the only viable option. With just 24 hours in a day, sacrificing an effective sleep spares us some extra time to do other stuff, but it definitely isn’t a healthy decision. Studies have shown that lack of sleep, or sleep deprivation, has very harmful effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health. Even sleeping a bit less than what your body requires may cause significant mood swings.
As reported by WebMD.com, a lack of sleep puts us at a greater risk for diabetes, heart failures and attacks, high blood pressure, and strokes. It also informs that sleep deprivation is a leading cause for road accidents and injuries, reporting that “the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigue is a cause in 100,000 auto crashes and 1,550 crash-related deaths a year in the US.” This shows that lack of sleep has a wider social impact than just repeated yawns.
You might have noticed that a sleepless night makes you grumpy, irritated, and less focussed throughout the day. If this lack of sleep increases, you can imagine the effects on your daily life. Mood swings, frustration, and fatigue are relationship-killers. Stressful daily routines make one lose interest in sex, as reported by the official website of the National Health Services of England. Further, it also reports that regular sleep disruptions lower the levels of reproductive hormones in the human body, which affects fertility.
Sleeplessness can also affect your body weight and size. Repeatedly, studies and research have proven that sleep deprivation or irregular sleeping patterns make you eat more by increasing your hunger and appetite, and subsequently, you gain weight. It lowers the production of leptin—a hunger-curbing hormone—and increases the production of ghrelin, the hunger-elevating hormone. This happens because you feel tired and you look for food with high carbohydrates and sugar content for instant energy to get through the day. So if you’re looking for ways to shed extra pounds, make sure you add proper sleep to your list. What is better than losing weight while dozing?
Sleep deprivation makes you puzzled, dumb, and—in real terms—mentally impaired. This is because it greatly affects your senses, thinking and judging process, and your decision-making process. Simple incidents become difficult to analyze and respond to. It also becomes difficult to remember and learn things while you are mentally tired. And to the beauty-conscious ladies, a lack of sleep has an effect on your skin; dark circles, wrinkles, dullness, the appearance of fine lines, and the breaking down of collagen (protein that keeps skin tight) are a few of many skin issues.
All the aforementioned problems underline the importance of sound and regular sleep for our body and mind. If you have not been sleeping well, you should buckle down and get ready to take some strict steps to get back to track.
The first and the foremost step to sleeping better is to set up a schedule and stick to it. Decide on the regular hours—a minimum of six—and sleep and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends or holidays. Set up a night time ritual as it accustoms your brain with your sleep cycle. It may be anything like listening to relaxing music, taking a bedtime shower, reading a book, spending some affectionate time with your pet, or writing notes for the next day. Avoid heavy meals, caffeinated drinks, alcohol, or smoking before sleeping. Make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable. Don’t use electronic devices like phones, tablets, or the TV while in bed. They alert your mind and keep you awake. If you are unable to sleep, don’t stress yourself. Get up, take a short walk to your kitchen or other room for few minutes, drink some water if you are thirsty, and come back to bed when you feel bit tired.
My granny often used to say, it takes two weeks to adopt a habit. Stop yawning and start being a Sleeping Beauty now.