Let's face it: sleep deprivation is never a good idea.
Yet, we’ve all been there — the zombie-like feeling of sluggishness, painfully slow reaction times, and an insatiable desire for junk food. There are few things that feel as terrible as the morning after a bad night of sleep.
While sleep is as important to the human body as food and water, many of us simply aren’t getting enough sleep. Unfortunately, this lack of sleep is growing increasingly prevalent worldwide, with 4 in 10 adults globally saying that their sleep has gotten worse in the past 5 years.
Here’s the lowdown on sleep deprivation and exactly why not sleeping enough can cause health problems in the long run.
Table of Contents
What is sleep deprivation?
Sleep deprivation is a general term to describe a state caused by inadequate quantity or quality of sleep, including voluntary or involuntary sleeplessness and circadian rhythm sleep disorders.
Why should I care if I’m not sleeping enough?
Aside from interfering with your day-to-day functions, sleep deprivation has been associated with several medical conditions. The research surrounding the topic of sleep deprivation has shown a higher prevalence of conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and stroke amongst sleep-deprived individuals. Sleep deprivation has also been associated with a heightened risk for Alzheimer’s disease in middle-aged individuals.
Another reason you should be getting enough sleep: the next day brain fog and drowsiness can kill. It can lead to inattentiveness and carelessness when performing even simple, everyday tasks. Sleep-deprived decision-making has led to less-than-ideal outcomes, with drowsiness being a key factor in multiple workplace-related and road accidents every year.
How will I know if I’m sleep-deprived?
Oh, you’ll know.
Sleep is meant to be restorative. You’re supposed to feel like a brand-new person when you wake up each day. If you’ve been feeling lethargic and tired for the longest time, it’s a clear sign that you’ve not been getting enough shuteye.
Other symptoms of sleep deprivation include:
If you feel like you’re angry all the time, there may be basis behind it.
Sleep deprivation causes you to be moody and more irritable. Not only that, but it can also be linked to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.
A study done concluded that individuals who regularly slept less than 7 hours per night were more likely to have a higher body mass index and develop obesity than those who slept more.
Insufficient sleep will impair your judgement when it comes to food choices and affects your hunger-regulating hormones, ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin stimulates appetite, while leptin decreases it. When the body is sleep-deprived, levels of ghrelin spike while levels of leptin fall, leading to an increase in appetite.
Are you always falling sick? Sleep deprivation affects your bodily functions and having not enough sleep may make you more susceptible to attacks on your immune system.
When you lack sleep, alertness and concentration is dampened. It’s more difficult to focus and pay attention, so you’re more easily distracted. It also hampers your ability to perform tasks that require logical reasoning or complex thought.
Studies have shown that even just one night of sleep loss is enough to impair performance, mood, and energy the following day.
Encoding of memories happens during Rapid Eye Movement (REM), which is the deepest stage of sleep. Insufficient sleep results in less REM time, making it harder to memorise things. That explains why you tend to forget all the things you crammed into your brain at the last-minute right before an exam!
Beauty sleep isn’t a myth.
When you don’t get enough sleep, it shows on your face. Suffering from breakouts, dark eye circles or tired skin? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Though you may not see it immediately, in the long run, chronic sleep loss means permanent damage to your skin.
Losing out on sleep increases the production of cortisol, a stress hormone. This hormone breaks down collagen, which is what keeps your skin elastic and youthful. Instead of splashing out on expensive skincare, try sleeping more — it’ll do wonders for your skin.
Ok, so how much sleep should I be getting?
It really depends on how old you are. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society, healthy adults should be clocking in between 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.
The exact time varies from person to person. A good rule of thumb is to start aiming for around 7.5 hours of sleep. From there, push your bedtime back by 30 minutes until you feel well-rested the next morning.
How can I sleep better?
Now that we’ve gotten the dangers of sleep deprivation out of the way, here are some tips on how to get a better night of sleep.
Get the right light
We’re all guilty of using our phones before bed, so it’s no wonder that we struggle to fall asleep after. Blue light emitted from these devices interferes with your circadian rhythm, tricking your brain into thinking it’s daytime. Exposure to blue light can double the time it takes to fall asleep, making you miss out on those Zs.
Nonetheless, if you still find yourself struggling to fall asleep, light therapy can help realign your sleep cycle and improve your sleeping patterns.
The uGalaxy Eye Massager is one of OSIM's best-selling massagers and with good reason: it comes with a suite of functions and programmes to relax your brain and gear you up for a better night of rest. The cool mood light function will help calm your senses and allow you to feel at peace, while also pampering your eyes with a relaxing and soothing massage to release tension.
Alternatively, if you had a bad night of sleep, you could also use the uGalaxy to buffer against the negative effects. The cool and warm mood light combination will help awaken your eyes and revitalise you, while the warm mood light will invigorate your mind and fire up your brain.
Exercise can improve your sleep both directly and indirectly. For one, it reduces sleep onset or the time it takes to fall asleep. It can also stave off that mid-afternoon crash, meaning you can ditch the nap.
However, avoid exercising too close to bedtime as it can disrupt your sleep cycle. The spike in endorphins during exercise will increase the level of activity in the brain and elevate core temperature thus disrupting your circadian rhythm. So, time your evening workout correctly, it’ll help you get that quality rest instead.
Manage your stress
Are you constantly bogged down by worries?
The hormone cortisol plays a pivotal role in our functioning. In the mornings, cortisol is the highest, stimulating wakefulness. Cortisol levels drop throughout the day and reach their lowest right around your bedtime.
Stress disrupts this natural process, triggering a fight-or-flight response from your body. As more cortisol is produced, your body wakes up and stimulates a state of alertness. Instead of winding down, your body revs up, which makes it very much harder to fall asleep.
The relationship between sleep deprivation and stress is complimentary, creating a cycle in which your body tires itself out but cannot get enough rest. The solution? Managing your stress.
Manage stress efficiently by indulging in a little self-care routine before bed. A massage will help to release bodily tension and loosen the muscles up, sending signals to the brain to let it know it’s time to rest. We’re not just saying this — a study done has shown that just 10-minutes of massage therapy was enough to bring down not stress levels significantly.
A handy massager like the uPamper Lite Handheld Massager can target hard-to-reach areas around your body and help encourage blood flow so that you feel the fatigue melt away and can ease into a good night of rest.
Regulate your air
Do you find yourself coughing through the night? Respiratory issues can make it harder to fall asleep.
A humidifier can help keeps the nasal passage and throat from drying out, helping you get uninterrupted rest at night. The uMist Dream Ultrasonic Humidifier uses ultrasonic technology to create a super fine, super soft, and most importantly, super quiet mist for a more comfortable sleeping environment. It provides eight hours of uninterrupted protection, so you can sleep easy through the night.
Pro-tip: add a few drops of your favourite essential oil into the uMist Dream. Multiple studies done on the benefits of aromatherapy have shown it to be effective for improving sleep quality and helpful in reducing fatigue and stress.
It can buffer against seasonal summer allergies and dry winter air. Bonus: you’ll get bouncy, hydrated skin too!
Make sleep a priority
Get better sleep and elevate your health today at intl.osim.com.