You’ve probably heard a lot of medical experts say you need a certain amount of sleep because of its benefits. And, yes, they’re actually true. Because sleep will not only affect your energy. It can also impact both your mental and physical health.
What Happens If You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?
Everyone has experienced stress and fatigue that usually result in a poor night’s sleep. As a short-term result, you may experience drowsiness, which could affect your ability to focus.
This also impacts your memory and ability to make sound decisions. Because your mind isn’t able to concentrate, it’s harder for your brain to make decisions – which could affect your driving skills, your thinking skills, and even your motor skills.
Apart from that, your stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, increase. Hence, sometimes, you’d wake up with a pimple.
Some effects often get better, though, – if you’re able to sleep better the next day. You’ll find that you’re more focused the next day after a full night’s sleep, you’re able to make better sound decisions, etc.
However, continuous poor quality of sleep can result in worse effects than that. That’s why sleep experts highly recommend improving your bed, such as investing in a good memory foam mattress, and proper sleep hygiene. Or else, you might experience a decline in your mental and physical health if the quality of your sleep doesn’t improve.
The worst part is you’re increasing your risks of the following health problems:
Weakened Immune System
Your body repairs itself as you sleep. During bedtime, your immune system is able to release proteins that are called cytokines. This type of protein is needed to help you fight infection and inflammation. It also helps you when you’re under stress.
And when you frequently don’t get proper sleep, your body won’t be able to release the right amount of such proteins to ward off inflammations and infections. Therefore, you’re more prone to catching cold viruses and other viral infections. Needless to say, your body won’t be able to recover from it as fast as healthy individuals do.
Your appetite is controlled by neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that let your nerve cells communicate with each other. Ghrelin and leptin are known to be the neurotransmitters that are central to your appetite. And these are the ones responsible for promoting hunger (ghrelin) and contributing to feeling full (leptin).
When you get poor sleep quality, these neurotransmitters are affected. The less sleep you get, the more ghrelin is produced and the less leptin is made. Therefore, you’ll feel more hungry and less full. As a result, you’ll eat more. Therefore, you easily gain weight.
Mental Health Decline
It is well-known how sleep can affect brain function. It can impact how you concentrate, make decisions, etc. But, not many people know that the quality of your sleep can also influence your mood and emotions.
Sleep has different stages that complete the sleep cycle. And each of them plays a role in your brain’s health. If you’re not able to get a full night’s sleep, you won’t be able to complete the stages of the sleep cycle. Therefore, the parts of your brain that are responsible for your emotions are affected.
Hence, when you wake up, you sometimes find yourself in a bad mood. And if you’re suffering from mental health issues such as depression or anxiety disorder, you’ll likely find that they’re creeping in after waking up as lack of sleep also triggers the brain mechanisms that make you sensitive to anxiety.
Increased Risks of Diabetes
Lack of quality sleep can also affect your blood sugar levels. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces more cortisol. When this happens, your body’s glucose level increases too. Because of that, your risk of diabetes increases.
But when you get adequate sleep, you’re decreasing the likelihood of catching diseases as sleep helps you repair your body and keep health issues at bay. Because of that, medical experts say that good-quality sleep is a must. This way, you can function properly, both physically and mentally. Doing so will also keep diseases at bay.
How Much Sleep You Need
Apparently, there are different recommended amount of sleep per day depending on a person’s age. For babies up to 3 months, it’s advisable for them to get 14-17 hours of sleep a day. For babies 4 to 12 months, they need 12-16 hours of sleep a day, including naps. For 1 to 2 years olds, 11-14; 3 to 5, 10-13; 6 to 12, 9-12; and for 13 to 18 years old, 8-18 hours.
The hours of sleep you’ll need as you grow older becomes lesser. For adults 18 to 60 years old, 7 hours of sleep would suffice. For 61 to 64, you need to have 7-9 hours of sleep. And for 65 and older, you will need 7-8 hours of sleep per day.
Improving the Quality of Your Sleep
The quality of your sleep matters. This way, you’re able to complete every stage of the sleep cycle. If you feel like you need to improve the quality of your sleep, here are some things that might help you:
- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule, even during weekends
- Remove electronic devices like, TVs, computers, and smartphones, from your bedroom
- Keep your bedroom dark
- Maintain a comfortable temperature in your bedroom
- Invest in a good mattress
- Keep your bed clean and frequently change your bedsheets for added comfort
- Avoid stimulants like nicotine and caffeine before bedtime
- Try relaxation exercises
- Have a warm bath
- Read a book instead of spending your time using your smartphone before bedtime
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid vigorous physical activity right before your bedtime
- Don’t eat close to bedtime
- Limit your naps to less than 20 minutes
Sleep is very important. It’s not only for your physical health but for your mental health too. With a full night’s sleep, you’re able to improve your health and the quality of your life. So stop frequently pulling all-nighters and develop good sleep hygiene instead.