We all know how important sleep is to keep us completely sane, but we are a flawed species. There are days where you would choose to sleep for a few hours to enjoy a night out with your friends, to finish that project you forgot to do, or just to binge watch your favorite series. We understand – we’ve all contemplated missing sleep for something else. But most of us regret this decision the day after. Sleep deprivation can lead to long lasting effects such as fatigue, irregular sleep cycles and lack of concentration. You may think that your regular 5 to 6 hours of sleep a day habit is normal, but chronic sleep deprivation can increase your risk for depression, cardiovascular disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. You may not feel the risk now, but there are subtle signs that your body is telling you to get more sleep.
The Constant Need to Eat
When you are sleep deprived, you may be experiencing a constant need to eat. Even how much you feed yourself, you still end up snacking a few minutes later. You may brush it off now, but this can be incredibly bad for you in the future since it can cause weight gain or even an eating disorder. Studies suggest that the reason we have the urge to snack as much when we lack sleep is due to the lack of leptin. This is a hormone that regulates energy and inhibits hunger. If you suddenly feel the urge to eat more than usual, try hitting the sack.
Being Moody or Easily Irritable
When you start to get way too fussy or have frequent mood swings, it’s time to take a nap. Humans never really outgrow the notion that babies cry or become irritable when they need a nap. We may push this off as simple irritation, but this is a big sign that your brain is telling you that it needs time to rest. The more tired you become, the heavier and the more frequent your moods will change. This also makes you prone to poor decision, easily stressed and have lack of concentration. If this is prolonged, it can lead to depression, anxiety and other mental disorders in the future.
You Lose Concentration a Lot
Taking a few minutes to meditate or daydream during a boring day in the office or at school is completely normal, but if you start to suddenly un-focus when working or doing some chores – then you are spacing out and losing concentration. Sleeping helps stimulate our brains. The lack of Zzz is causing you to become less productive and more prone to spacing out. A lot of us will do all nighters to study for exams or to finish an essay. However, lack of sleep can inhibit you from memorizing the information you are studying or make you less productive when doing a project. If you are starting to lose concentration more often than usual – call it a day. A good night’s rest and an early morning study session will make you more productive and is a better time to store information.
One of the biggest signs that your body is telling you to sleep is having the urge to sleep anywhere. As soon as you hit the sofa, your head becomes heavy and you have the urge to sleep. This even goes for bed time. If you tend to pass out as soon as you hit the pillow, then you obviously need more sleep. According to the Institute of Neurological Sleep Disorder and Stroke, people that are prone to going into a deep sleep 5 minutes after lying down is most likely suffering from sleep deprivation.
Your Coffee Does Nothing
People that tend to sleep with the bare minimum hours cling to coffee to give them energy. But what do you do if your two espresso shot of coffee is doing absolutely nothing for you? Caffeine can help boost your energy and concentration, but if there really is nothing to boost – it’s pretty much useless. A longer sleep session is better than 5 cups of coffee.
Your Dull Skin
When you become more prone to skin blemishes, puffy eyes and dull skin – you definitely lack sleep. We need sleep to revitalize our skin. Continual sleep deprivation makes your skin easily irritable and dull. If you are not prone to blemishes or dull skin and suddenly have them, try sleeping it off and see for a week if it makes a huge difference.
Depending on how much sleep you are currently getting, your body will give you different signs. Approximately 50 to 70 million adults in the US alone suffer from some form of sleep disorder. You may think that you are getting enough sleep and your body is able to adjust to little sleep, but you can be seriously sleep deprived. You may appear to be functioning properly, but you are not completely yourself. Living with the bare minimum of sleep is never the best option, it is no way to live. Do what you can to achieve 8 to 9 hours of sleep every day. If you struggle with sleep or have a sleep disorder, go to a professional for some tips, medication or therapy.