Sleep-Deprivation Is ACTUALLY Ruining Your Life

  • It's making you sick- After just one night of skimping on sleep, you'll experience changes in mood, headache and hormone imbalances. One week of sleeping less than six hours a night may result in changes to more than 700 genes. Ongoing insufficient sleep is linked with a list of diseases including heart disease, diabetes, depression, early death and a higher risk for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, stroke, some cancers and multiple sclerosis.
  • It's making you fat- Not getting enough sleep also contributes to gaining weight. After a night of insufficient sleep, people have higher levels of the hunger hormone and a decreased level of the fullness hormone. When people don’t get enough sleep, they tend to want high-calorie carbs and don’t have the impulse control to turn down a piece of cake.
  • It's making you stupid- Lack of sleep can slow down your thinking, impair your memory, concentration, and judgment, decision-making and impede learning. During sleep your brain is busy processing information, consolidating memories, making connections and clearing out toxins. When you are asleep, your brain regenerates itself and not having adequate time to do this could potentially accelerate neurodegenerative diseases. Not getting enough sleep can actually shrink your brain.
  • The anatomy of sleep- Generally everyone needs seven to nine hours sleep a night for their brain and body to perform best, as well as the quality of your sleep is, too. Several times during the night, your brain cycles through different stages of sleep, which determine the quality of your sleep. After an initial five to ten minutes in stage one, your brain moves into a deeper stage two, and over the next hour it goes to stages three and four, in which the electrical activity slows way down. 

Frequently Asked Questions

After slow-wave sleep, your brain progresses into REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, in which it becomes a lot more active. This is when your brain runs through all the sleep cycles sequentially about every 90 minutes, then starts over again at the beginning. When you don’t sleep contiguously, your sleep is less restorative to your brain. You'll feel it the next day even though the number of hours you slept may be OK.

Quality sleep is about good habits.

  1. Don't nap during the day.If you're having trouble sleeping at night, it's probably not a good idea. Naps can disturb your normal pattern of sleep and wakefulness.
  2. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol too close to bedtime.Caffeine disrupts the sleep cycle and reduces the quality of your sleep. Alcohol can speed up the onset of sleep; it disrupts sleep later as the body starts to metabolize the alcohol, causing arousal.
  3. Exercise early and often.Physical activity improves sleep by helping to synchronize circadian rhythms, reducing stress, decreasing REM sleep, and causing many favorable neurochemical changes in your brain. But when exercising too close to bedtime can rev you up and keep you awake. Vigorous exercise is best in the morning or late afternoon. A relaxing exercise, like yoga, can be done before bed without problem.
  4. Limit food and drink before sleep.Stay away from large meals close to bedtime as digestion can interfere with sleep. If you are struggling with a sleep issue, it's probably not a good time to start experimenting with spicy dishes.
  5. Get more natural light.Getting out in the sunshine during your day will boost serotonin, a neurochemical, which improves melatonin release, allowing your brain to shut down and sleep. Avoid bright lights and electronic screens after the sun goes down.
  6. Establish a regular bedtime routine.This can be brushing your teeth, washing your face, or reading for a few minutes. Try to avoid heavy conversations and emotional activities before bed. You need a calm brain for quality sleep.
  7. Associate your bed with sleep.It's not a good idea to use your bed to surf the net, check your phone, watch TV, or listen to music. If you use the space only for sleeping, your brain will associate it with sleep.
  8. Ensure that your sleep environment is relaxing and free of disturbances.Make sure your bed is comfortable and the room temperature isn't too hot or cold. An uncomfortable brain is an active brain. It will also help if your bedroom is really dark with no LEDs emitting light to disturb your subconscious brain. White noise is OK, but other noise, like a TV or music, will hurt your sleep quality because your brain registers it even if it doesn't wake you.
Sharon Izak Elaine Chat staff