According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of shut-eye per night. I used to look at that number and think that sleeping through a third of your life seems like a terrible waste of time. With so much to do, I ended up getting closer to 6 hours of sleep per night – with noticeable detrimental effects. Lack of proper sleep can show up as obvious side effects like crankiness or lethargy, but there are hosts of hidden dangers connected to disturbing your sleep cycle.
The effect on your body.
Your body is the first place that will show signs of sleep deprivation. Puffy, bloodshot eyes with dark circles underscoring them and a slight tremor to your hands are a dead giveaway that you are in need of a nap. Research suggests even more lurking side-effects. In a 2006 study by the Institute of Medicine, researchers said that people experiencing sleep insufficiency are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity. In an article published by Huffington Post, it’s said that adults who regularly slept fewer than six hours a night had four times the risk of stroke symptoms.
The effect on your mind
During deep sleep that includes a full REM cycle, the body and mind gets to rest, review the events of the day gone by and prepare for the following day. During deep sleep, your brain also connects memories and forms specific neural pathways. Having shallow or interrupted sleep prevents this process from happening had has direct effects on our capability to recall old memories and form new ones.
The effect on your emotions
We’ve all experienced the grumpiness that comes after a bad night’s sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation is a sure way to mess with your optimism and social involvement. On psychcentral.com, an article on sleep deprivation states that a growing body of research suggests that sleep deprivation may have a particular effect on cognitive processes that rely on our experience of emotions. In a 2005 Sleep in America poll, people who were diagnosed with depression or anxiety were more likely to sleep less than six hours at night. The most common sleep disorder, insomnia, has the strongest link to depression. In a 2007 study of 10,000 people, those with insomnia were five times as likely to develop depression as those without (webmd.com)
The effect on your relationships
Men with sleep apnoea (interrupted sleep) have been shown to have significantly lower levels of testosterone, and subsequently lower sex drive. On webmd.com, Allison T. Siebern, PhD, a fellow in the Insomnia and Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Stanford University Sleep Medicine Center says: “Lack of sleep can lead to low energy, fatigue, and sleepiness. This may affect libido and/or decrease interest in sex.” Apart from hormonal changes, disruptive sleeping patterns could create tension between bed partners or lead to separations such as needing different bedrooms.
While we are quick to run to pharmaceuticals for instant fixes, there are a lot of healthy practices you can take up to improve your sleep. If you want to take something to easy your sleeping patterns, Goodnight Sleep is a completely herbal formula that will allow you undisturbed sleep without the pharmaceutical kickback. Relaxing practices such as tai-chi, yoga, deep breathing exercises and meditation are all part of a lifestyle that promotes deep sleep. On the diet front, stay away from caffeine and nicotine and try a glass of warm milk with honey or a cup of Horlicks before bed. Also shy away from action-packed media exposure before bed, as this could stimulate your mind too much and keep the brain racing when it should be unwinding.
Institute of Medicine. Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2006.