It isn’t uncommon to have a life that is full of pressure, obligations, anxiety, and stress. Unfortunately for many people, sleep gets put on hold while they attempt to fulfill all of the other obligations they are committed to. Studies prove that millions of Americans just aren’t getting enough sleep. Whether they are suffering from a sleep disorder or simply don’t have time to get some shut-eye, lack of sleep has become a major health and social issue.
Not only is ample sleep a major component in giving you enough energy to face the day, but it enables people to assimilate information, grow, and maintain a psychological sense of well-being. In fact, the CDC has conducted numerous studies on the origin of sleeping disorders, and the harmful effects they have on the body and society as a whole.
Why is sleep important?
While sleep can have a major effect on the body, here are just a few of the ways that depriving your body of sleep can wreak havoc:
1. Brain Restoration
As you sleep, your brain is storing away new information that you have acquired during the day. Also known as memory consolidation, your brain is also actively preparing to assimilate new information. Studies have shown that people, who get a good night’s sleep after learning a task, perform better when tested on the information later. Instead of staying up all night studying for your college final, having a restful night may help you to do better on the test. Good sleep helps people to make decisions more clearly, be creative, and pay attention.
2. Weight Gain
Sleep helps to regulate certain hormones in the body that control satiety. These hormones are known as ghrelin and leptin. Getting a night of restful sleep will cause the brain to secrete an increased amount of the hormone leptin. This causes people to feel full during the day, and they tend to eat less. Lack of sleep, on the other hand, can cause the brain to secrete higher levels of ghrelin. This hormone can cause you to feel hungry more often, urging you to eat.
3. Maintaining a Healthy Circulatory System
Various sleep disorders have shown to be a precursor to irregular heartbeat, increased stress hormone levels, and hypertension. During sleep, the body is actively healing internal damage, and repairing blood vessels. By cutting down your hours of sleep, you are taking away time that your body needs to make circulatory system repairs.
Lack of sleep impairs immune function, including the functioning of the body’s killer immune cells. It has also been shown that good sleep may help to fight cancer.
5. Emotional Well-being
Lack of sleep has been correlated with depression, suicide, anxiety, and risk-taking behaviors. While the body is asleep it produces certain neurotransmitters, including serotonin, which is thought to play a role in regulating your mood. Lack of serotonin is one of the causes of many depressive disorders.
People who are sleep deprived are more likely to be involved in accidents during the day. Studies show that people who get less than six hours of sleep daily are more likely to fall asleep while driving. Not only can this cause serious harm to the driver who has fallen asleep, but it has taken the lives of many other drivers as well.
7. Mistakes at work
Being tired during the day can cause you to make mistakes while at work. Millions of occupational errors and medical mistakes can be traced to a lack of sleep.
What can you do to ensure good sleep?
If you are having trouble maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, here are some suggested things that you might try to increase your ability to sleep.
- Avoid large meals before bedtime
- Avoid nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine close to bedtime
- Set a sleep schedule: Make sure that you go to bed at a certain time each night, and wake up at a set time every morning. This will help to set your body’s sleep schedule.
- Exercise during the day: Maintain a routine exercise regimen. Try not to engage in strenuous exercise within a few hours of going to bed. This will increase your heart rate and make it hard to calm down for rest.
- Talk to your doctor about natural supplements that may help to induce a restful night’s sleep.