Did you know that a lack of shut eye could actually be hurting your health? Here's what you need to know about the relationship between your sleep habits and your entire body's wellness.
Often, getting your eight hours a night can feel like an impossible task. Between the added stress and anxiety of the past year's events, there is an endless list of reasons why you may not be able to fall asleep lately.
When you're feeling tired everyday, you simply are not yourself. This is because when you sleep your body is in an irreplaceable recovery period that is absolutely essential for healing, regeneration, and rejuvenation of your cells. Sleep helps you to be the best version of you and fuels your daily productivity.
Why is sleep so important?
We're all guilty of the occasional TV binge, all-night study session, or celebratory night out. Pulling an all-nighter here and there probably won’t cause much harm to your health, but when you continually begin to skimp on sleep, it can cause some serious health problems over time, according to sleep research.
Getting enough sleep is actually more essential to our overall health than we often realize. It's vital to physical performance, mental health, emotional wellness, appetite levels, skin health, digestion, overall mood, and so much more. A lack of sleep has also been linked to a higher risk for many health complications.
Can lack of sleep harm my health?
Over time, chronic sleep loss has been shown in some studies to increase your risk of life-threatening illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, general weight gain, heart disease, low immunity, high blood pressure, and depression. It's been estimated that about 75-90% of people with insomnia have at least one other health condition. Pretty shocking, right?
How much sleep should I be getting?
Medical research and experts generally agree that the recommended amount of sleep for healthy adults is between 8 hours and 9 hours per night. That doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with you if you wake feeling your best after 10 hours of rest, or if you thrive with a bit less sleep.
Adequate sleep can vary slightly from person to person at different stages of their life, but 7-8 hours seems to be the norm for most healthy adults. When it doubt, listen to your body and consult with a medical professional for the best medical advice.
The average American adult currently sleeps for an average of 6.8 hours each night, which is a whole hour down from 1942.
What if I wake up frequently at night?
It's not only the length of your nightly sleep that matters, but the quality of that sleep as well. Medically reviewed journals and research on sleep all point to deep, uninterrupted quality sleep being hugely important to waking up feeling refreshed each morning.
Also known as stage 3 sleep, N3, delta, or slow-wave sleep, this high-quality sleep has been at the center of medical research for years. In order to get truly adequate sleep, your body must reach this "deep sleep" state each night without interruption.
What impacts sleep quality?
In our modern, quick-paced society, we often feel pressured to “do it all” and fit as much into our schedules as humanly possible. Society today makes it very easy to push those extra few hours of sleep to the side and neglect this important aspect of our health.
It’s essential to remind ourselves often that our healthy diet, exercise regimen and holistic supplements will not be able to keep us healthy long-term if we are chronically sleep deprived.
What are the signs of sleep deprivation?
A good night's sleep is imperative to living your best life, at any age. You may be sleep deprived if you:
- You’re always hungry or experiencing cravings
- You’ve gained weight
- You get sick frequently
- Your memory and mental performance is poor
- You feel impulsive or indecisive
- You’re more clumsy than usual
- You feel extra emotional for no reason
- Your vision is blurry
- Your skin looks dull or sallow
Here are 5 clinically-backed reasons to get enough sleep tonight.
1. Avoid illness and low immunity
Lack of sleep can affect the body’s ability to fight off viruses and infections, wearing down your immune system over time and leaving you much more susceptible to getting sick. The effects of sleep loss will also result in longer illness recovery times.
One study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that out of the 153 volunteers they studied for 14 days, those sleeping less than seven hours nightly were almost three times as likely to catch a cold than those getting eight or more hours.
2. Protect a long, happy life expectancy
Some studies have found that prolonged lack of sleep may actually shorten your lifespan, sometimes pretty substantially.
One study in particular known as the Whitehall II Study concluded that sleeping less than five hours nightly nearly doubled a person’s risk of dying from cardiovascular disease (the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC).
Another data analysis of three sleep deprivation studies concluded that consistently getting five or less hours of sleep per night could increase mortality risk by up to 15 percent.
3. Avoid weight gain or unhealthy cravings
Have you ever noticed that you feel hungrier on days when you haven’t gotten enough sleep? This is due to the fact that when you’re body isn’t properly rested, it can throw appetite-controlling hormones such as ghrelin and leptin out of balance, slowing your metabolism and impairing insulin sensitivity.
When you’re feeling exhausted, you’re much less likely to watch what you’re eating and instead seek comfort in sugary, greasy, and fatty foods. One clinical study discovered during their research that people sleeping less than six hours nightly had a 30 percent higher chance of gaining weight or becoming obese than people getting six to nine hours.
4. Preserve radiant, youthful-looking skin
Your skin is one of the biggest visible indicators of your overall health. This means that when you’re chronically fatigued, your skin will be the first place to show signs of sleep deprivation. Puffy, swollen eyes, fine lines, wrinkles, sallow skin, and dark circles can all be the result of chronic lack of sleep.
Sleeping (especially deep “slow-wave sleep”) allows your skin to repair itself and thicken by producing human growth hormones. These growth hormones slow as we age and play an essential role in overnight tissue repair.
Skimping on sleep can cause your body to release more of the stress hormone cortisol. Excess cortisol can damage skin by breaking down collagen, the most essential protein for maintaining smooth, elastic skin.
5. Remain mentally sharp, focused, and productive
It goes without saying that sleep is absolutely crucial in order for your brain to function optimally. Lack of sleep can impair memory, focus, and overall cognitive functioning. This is because the “sharp wave ripples” produced most frequently during sleep are vital for memory consolidation.
Over time, lack of sleep can also affect the brain’s ability to eliminate the plaque-forming proteins that lead to neurodegenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer's. One report in the Journal of Neuroscience found that getting five or less hours of sleep can begin to damage or kill brain cells after just three consecutive days of sleep loss.
Sleep deficiency can manifest itself in so many ways, impacting everything from our mood to our weight, mental clarity, and heart health. In order to help prevent the harmful effects linked to sleep loss and enjoy the benefits of a good night's rest, it's important to follow a sleep-positive, healthy lifestyle and seek proper medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Always check with your doctor before starting any sleep medication or sleep supplement. The amount of sleep you get will have a direct impact on the quality of your life and with the right mindset, there are plenty of steps you can take to look forward to heading to bed at night.
A natural sleep support supplement, like Primal Sleep, can help support your healthy lifestyle with the right blend of calming botanicals and amino acids, such as valerian, melatonin, chamomile, lavender, and L-Tryptophan.