Ideally you are supposed to get seven to nine hours of sleep
a night, but sometimes, you stay up for a night out on the town, to finish a
project at work, or even just to watch Game of Thrones on your laptop. It’s understandable,
and a late night here and there won't have any lasting effects beyond the feeling
tired the next day. It's when you miss out on adequate sleep night after night
that it becomes a real problem.
Though you may think your five-hours-a-night habit is
nothing to worry about, chronic sleep deprivation has been proven to cause an
increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and
depression. The body has its way of
telling you that it needs more rest and below we have listed ten signs you
should watch out for which might indicate that you need to slow down.
1. You're always
"If the brain is not getting the energy it needs from
sleep it will often try to get it from food," says Chris Winter, MD, sleep
expert and owner of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine in Virginia,
US. Not getting enough rest increases the production of ghrelin, also known as
the hunger hormone, which in turn makes your body crave fatty and sugary foods,
Dr. Winter says. Poor sleep can also mess with leptin, the satiety hormone.
This is the hormone that tells you that you have had enough to eat. "When
you're not sleeping properly you tend to eat more of what you're craving
because you're not feeling the signals to stop eating," Dr. Winter says.
2. You've gained
Weight gain is an associated side effect that comes with an
increased appetite. "When you're tired, you don't watch what you're
eating," Dr. Winter says. "You just look for all kinds of things to
help you feel more awake." With ghrelin and leptin not working like they should,
your body will crave fried foods and sweets to get you through the day—a guarantee
to widen your waistline. A lack of sleep can also have direct effects on your
metabolism, Dr. Winter says; as it tends to slow down without proper rest. It
also doesn’t help that research have found that just four and a half hours of
sleep for four days straight can reduce your fat cells' ability to respond to
insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating energy, by 30%. This makes your
body crave more food as it feels it is not getting enough fuel.
3. You're more
When people are exhausted they are more likely to act without
thinking, says Gail Saltz, MD, Health.com's contributing psychology editor.
"Your ability to say, 'No, I shouldn't have another candy bar' becomes
more difficult." This doesn't just apply to overeating, People might also find
themselves doing or saying things they don't necessarily mean, like lashing out
at a spouse or ranting at a co-worker. People are less inhibited when they lack
sleep, and thus more prone to acting more impulsively says Kelly Baron, PhD, an
assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University in Chicago.
4. You are more
likely to forget things
"When you're tired, you're usually not paying a whole
lot of attention to what's going on when trying to make a memory," Dr.
Winter says. That said, getting adequate sleep is crucial for brain health in
the long term. Research from the National Institutes of Health showed that in
mice, sleep helps clear toxic molecules from the brain. So not getting enough
regularly could impair your brain's ability to keep the nervous system clear,
Dr. Winter says. It has also been suspected that getting adequate sleep aids
long term memory.
5. You're having
trouble making decisions
If you've been finding it harder making your mind up on a
number of issues, a lack of sleep could be the cause. "Sleep deprivation
can affect speed and higher-level cognitive processing," says Dr. Baron. That
means essential functions, like problem solving or time management, become even
more difficult to carry out. Research has shown that people who lack sleep at
poorer in decision making as compared to people who are well rested. Also, poor
sleep simply hinders your ability to react quickly.
6. You tend to be clumsier
It is okay to trip over once in a while but when you do it a
few times in a day, it might just mean you're too tired to really focus on
where you're going. "When you're tired, there's a lapse in how you
neurologically function in general," Dr. Winter says. The combined effect
of lowered reaction time and concentration also brings about more difficulty
with movement. "When you walk up and down the stairs, there's a lot of
processing going on there," Dr. Winter says. "When sleep deprived you
can't process particularly well."
7. You are more emotional
When you lack sleep, your emotions tend to be out of control
and become over-reactive to emotional stimuli. So things that normally haven't
gotten upset you in the past—a tear-jerking movie or big work deadline—may
provoke anxiety, sadness, or anger. It could also go the opposite way as peole
have been known to become overly happier or giddy.
8. You get sick often
Your immune system tends to suffer when you get poor sleep.
"If you're not sleeping properly there can be significant issues in terms
of your body's ability to fight off infections," Dr. Winter says. In
particular, you are more likely to develop a cold. Researchers have discovered that
people who got less than seven hours of sleep were nearly three times as likely
to develop a cold as those who got eight hours or more rest a night. This is
probably because the immune system produces proteins during sleep known as cytokines,
which help protect against infections and inflammation. This means a few nights
of poor sleep could lower your body's defenses against pesky viruses.
9. You're having
When you are tired, you lose control the muscles of the eye
as lack of sleep tires out the ciliary muscle, which helps your eyes focus. Then
there's the extra ocular muscle, which moves the eye from side to side and up
and down. In well rested people, the eye muscles work hand in hand to
compensate any imbalance but a lack of sleep makes the misalignment harder to
control, potentially resulting in double vision. It is possible to notice both
of these vision problems after one night of poor sleep, but they will persist
the less time you spend in bed.
10. Your skin stops
There is a reason why it is called "beauty sleep" When
you are asleep, your skin works to repair any damaged cells, so not getting
enough sleep can disrupt the process. It has been found that skin recovery is
30% higher in those who had good quality sleep over those with poor sleep.
"A lack of sleep upsets your hormonal balance and elevates circulating
estrogen levels," says Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York City-based
dermatologist and author of Skin Rules. A lack of sleep also makes your skin
may also appear older. "If done for long periods, you will see that you
have excess wrinkling probably from a decrease in collagen," Dr. Jaliman
says. "The body produces it while you're sleeping." So rather than
rush out to buy that anti-wrinkle cream, maybe you should consider sleeping on