Little Sleep Can Have Big Consequences

sleep, woman sleeping

Three reasons to prioritize sleep. 

Just like mental health, supportive relationships, or physical activity, sleep is one of the main pillars that makes up the foundation of health and well-being. During sleep, the body performs routine maintenance to support healthy brain function and physical health, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Physical health

Heart health: While asleep, the body is hard at work healing and repairing the heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency could lead to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, kidney disease, and high blood pressure.

  • Hunger and weight management: The body balances hormones during sleep that regulate hunger levels. When we don’t get enough sleep, the hormone that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) increases while the hormone that makes you feel full (leptin) decreases. Sleep deficiency is linked to greater risk of obesity.
  • Diabetes: Sleep determines how the body responds to insulin, the hormone released to control blood sugar levels. As a result, lack of sleep could lead to an increased risk of diabetes.
  • Growth and development: Deep sleep signals the body to release a hormone that helps children, teens, and adults develop and grow. This hormone also contributes to increased muscle mass and helps repair cells and tissue.

Mental, emotional, and behavioral health

Sleep helps the brain function properly and prepare for the day ahead. According to studies, a night of quality sleep improves one’s ability to learn and problem solve. Sleep also helps you pay attention, make decisions, and be creative. In addition, sleep helps prepare the brain to better control emotions and behavior as well as cope with change.

Energy and safety

  • Productivity: Getting quality sleep on a regular basis contributes to increased productivity.
  • Microsleep: Sleep deprivation is powerful and much more than simply feeling tired. When the body reaches a point of sleep deprivation, it will move into microsleep, regardless of the time or place. Microsleep are short bursts of sleep that last a few seconds. You may have experienced microsleep if:
    • You’re awakened by body jerks or your head falling forward
    • You find yourself yawning or blinking excessively
    • You aren’t aware of something that just happened
    • You have trouble processing information

Microsleep is especially dangerous while driving. Prioritizing quality sleep each night can reduce chances of microsleeping throughout the day.

Tips for a better night’s sleep

  • Set a bedtime and stick to it, even on the weekends.
  • Limit screen time 30 minutes to one hour before bedtime. Instead, do something relaxing that tells your body it’s time to wind down.
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark and the temperature is comfortable.
  • Do not consume caffeine, alcohol, or large meals two to three hours before bedtime.
  • Maintain a regular exercise schedule.

Lack of sleep can have tremendous negative impacts on one’s health, well-being, and safety. Do yourself a favor and prioritize quality sleep for optimal physical health, emotional well-being, energy, and safety.