Chronic sleep deprivation can cause serious damage to our body and minds.
After going through recent studies and tons of research I discovered 8 serious risks of poor sleep that we all should know about so we better understand why we need at least 7 to 8 hours of good sleep every night.
Once you understand these risks, I hope you'll make sleep a priority and get the good night's rest we all need.
I used to be a night owl. I'd wait until the kids went to bed, jumped back on the computer put in another few hours of work and then relaxed in front of the TV until my eyes became droopy.
On an average night, I was getting 5 or 6 hours of sleep. I thought I was well balanced in my routine - but I always had trouble sleeping and trouble getting up in the mornings. I'd feel tired during the day and caffeine was my savior - it gave me that boost I needed to get my day started and keep going. But I was often tired, cranky and had a hard time focusing during the day. Little did I realize just how much damage my routine was causing to my body and mind.
Obviously the occasional late night here and there won't have a significant long term impact on our mind and body. However, when we're constantly having trouble sleeping it can quickly lead to bigger more serious problems.
I had no idea just how much damage I was doing to my body until I did the research. What I found out surprised me and forced me find a way to get a good night's sleep.
Like me you probably don't know just how much we need sleep and the kind of damage we do to our mind and body when we don't sleep. So I put together the most serious effects of poor sleep
8 Serious Risks of Poor Sleep
1. Risk of Poor Sleep : Memory Issues
When we sleep, our brain continues to work in forming connections that help us process and remember information. When we deny our body of enough sleep, these connections are not complete and this impacts both our short and long term memory.
Long term studies by the University of California, Berkely show a direct link between consistent poor sleep (6 hours or less) and brain issues like Dementia and Alzheimer's.
Scientists now say the brain and body need 7 to 8 hours of sleep to function properly and avoid serious issues in the future.
2. Risk of Poor Sleep : Poor Focus & Concentraton
Ever write an exam or try to get a presentation done or prepare for an important meeting with little or no sleep?
It's not easy and sometimes we end up going over the same thing over an over again because it just doesn't seem to sink in.
The same studies by UC Berkely show that poor sleep effects our concentration, creativity and problem solving skills. It slows us down and negatively impacts all these areas.
So it's often better to get a good night's rest and be fresh in the morning so we can recall the information from the night before and have better focus and clarity during the day.
3. Risk of Poor Sleep : Mood Changes
Not having enough sleep makes us feel moody, short tempered and emotional. It's hard to be logical and rational when we feel exhausted. Studies show chronic sleep deprivation can effect our mood and lead to feelings of depression and anxiety.
4. Risk of Poor Sleep : Weak Immune System
Poor sleep also effects our immune system.
While we're sleeping our body produces thousands of killer cells that destroy bad cells in our body.
These killer cells help us fight off everything from the common cold to cancer.
When we don't get enough sleep we reduce the number of killer cells in our body by 70%. That's why it's important to rest and get some sleep when we're not feeling well. Sleep allows the body to fight off infections that can make us sick.
Our troubles sleeping and lack of sleep effects our concentration, creativity and problem solving skills. It slows us down and negatively impacts all these areas.
5. Risk of Poor Sleep : Type 2 Diabetes
Trouble sleeping often impacts our body's ability to release insulin. Insulin pushes glucose into our cells so we have more energy. When we don't get enough sleep we have higher blood sugar levels and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes in turn can effect many organs in our body over the long term, so the impact of poor sleep is far reaching.
6. Risk of Poor Sleep : High Blood Pressure
When I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, my doctor recommended reducing my salt intake, exercising regularly, meditating to quiet my mind and getting enough sleep.
More and more studies show a co-relation between sleep and high blood pressure. The less we sleep the greater the likelihood of developing high blood pressure
7. Risk of Poor Sleep : Heart Disease
Along with increased blood pressure, sleep deprivation also leads to higher level of chemicals that are linked to inflammation. Both high blood pressure and inflammation play a role in the development of heart disease.
New studies into sleep by Berkeley show that consistent poor sleep (6 hours or less) leads to an increased risk in heart disease. You can find out more about these studies and how to get a good night's sleep by going here
8. Risk of Poor Sleep : Weight Gain
Our body contains chemicals that tell our brain when we're full.
When we can't sleep or don't get enough sleep, these chemicals are thrown off balance and our body doesn't get the right message. As a result, we find ourselves reaching for that bag of chips or over-indulging in chocolate even though we've had enough to eat. This can easily lead to packing on more than a few unwanted pounds.
According to Scientists who combed through 30-years of studies into sleep, getting a good night's rest of at least 7-8 hours should be a top priority and more important than exercising regularly and/or having a healthy diet.
The risk of not getting enough sleep is wide and far reaching.
We need to get better sleep every night. And that means making a conscious choice to take care of our mind and body. That may mean putitng down that book, leaving the work for tomorrow and choosing to hit the bed and get enough shut-eye so we're recharged, focused and healthy for the next day.
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