What are the little-known secrets to health and wellness? The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused people worldwide to experience time crunches, which can lead to more stress and anxiety. Many insomniacs are sacrificing a good night’s sleep because they consider it part of a luxury lifestyle.
Here’s the problem. That approach and a lack of sleep can actually cause negative short and long-term effects on physical, mental, emotional, and social health. So instead of saving time, sleep deprivation can actually reduce your work productivity and free time. I’d like to share about the close connection between sleep quality and overall quality of life.
The Importance of Sleep
We often consider lifestyle factors like a healthy diet and regular exercise as the keys to good health. However, sleep is just as critical for good health as eating food, drinking water, and breathing about 20,000 times (more or less) every day.
Sleep provides many benefits for bodies and brains. It allows your body to conduct self-repair and causes the brain to compile memories and process information.
Sleep and Health
Sleep deprivation can cause various physical problems like a weaker immune system, and mental issues like anxiety, stress, and depression.
The good news is you can take some basic lifestyle changes to improve your “sleep hygiene” that involves having a sleep schedule and creating a sleep-friendly environment. This includes steps like:
- Reducing light and noise
- Avoiding caffeine after mid-afternoon and alcohol at night
- Ending screen time near bedtime
- Using sleep aids like eye masks
- Maintaining a slightly cool bedroom.
- Avoiding “warm colors” in bedrooms
- Using “white noise” to doze off
- Taking a warm shower/bath at bedtime
- Not eating or exercise close to bedtime
Short-term Sleep Deprivation Effects
How bad could one night of sleep deprivation be, right? Well, not getting enough sleep for just one night can cause various short-term health effects, including:
Anyone who’s been in a grumpy mood after a poor night’s sleep knows first-hand about the link between sleep and mood. Recent studies show that sleep-deprived people are more likely to give negative classifications of household objects. Yes, a potted plant could be “bad.”
Meanwhile, people who sleep well the night before labeled the everyday objects as “neutral.” So one night of not getting 40 winks can have a severe effect on their overall mood.
A recent study required two sets of healthy young groups to make an unprepared speech and take a test. One group got a good night’s sleep, and the other group stayed awake during the whole night.
The sleep-deprived group performed poorly versus the well-rested group. They experienced major stress levels doing the basic tasks and also showed higher blood pressure.
Lack of Focus
A study review that included 70 sleep studies involving lack of sleep discovered that attention was the biggest affected area. For example, sleep-deprived people missed more flashing lights than the well-rested group.
A lack of focus can even cause safety issues. For example, this includes reaction times while driving cars, or focus while operating heavy equipment at work.
Long-term Sleep Deprivation Effects
Some people argue that short-term lack of sleep is worth possible long-term drawbacks. However, consider that each night of sleep deprivation reduces your projected life expectancy.
So in a sense, people can never “catch up” on sleep during weekends and holidays. This makes it critical to sleep better with the help of factors like a comfortable mattress selection.
Getting too little sleep might increase risks of different serious health conditions, including:
High Blood Pressure
Studies show that about one-quarter of the world’s population has high blood pressure, according to Medscape. Scientists have found a strong connection between short sleep times and hypertension.
Research also shows the spike in global obesity is partly related to sleep deprivation. For example, countries like Sweden, Japan, and Saudi Arabia are only averaging about 6 hours of sleep per night.
One Harvard study studied the effects of lack of sleep on eating habits. The participants’ brain scans showed that sleepy people were less likely to distinguish between high-calorie and low-calorie foods. This can result in overeating and bad food choices.
Low Immune System
Getting a full night’s sleep can boost your body’s ability to fight off the coronavirus disease and other attacks on healthy cells. A lack of sleep results in a greater chance to catch a common cold and is less protected from flu vaccines, according to the Mayo Clinic.
A recent study showed that people getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night were 3x more likely to catch a cold. Meanwhile, those who got at least 8 hours of sleep were the least likely to get a cold or the flu bug.
Studies show that getting too little sleep (under 6 hours) or too much (over 9 hours) can increase the risk of type-2 diabetes. This makes up 95% of all diabetes cases.
Research reveals that only getting 6 or 7 hours of sleep every day increases the risk of a health condition that can lead to cardiovascular disease. Sleeping problems like sleep apnea might also increase the chance of heart disease and other health conditions.
Based on studies, people with inadequate sleep every night are 10x more likely to experience severe depression, according to the University of Minnesota. Since depression can disrupt sleep patterns, it can create a double-whammy.
Social Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Besides affecting your body, mind, and emotions, not getting adequate sleep can also affect your social life. The irony is that failing to get enough shut-eye is often linked to overbooking work and personal appointments. Some of the reasons might be surprising.
Sleep Quality and Social Life
Sleep is important when your body’s needs “recharging” for the next day of business meetings and meeting friends.
Sleep and Relationships
Restless nights can affect your relationships, whether it’s friends, family, or coworkers. For example, In 2013, UC Berkeley scientists reported new research that suggests that lack of sleep can negatively affect your ability to appreciate loved ones and partners, according to Taking Charge.
That can, in turn, trigger stress and tension in relationships. This happens in various ways besides spouses or lovers complaining, “You never listen.”
For example, sleep-deprived people might feel less grateful and more selfish. Both of these factors can cause partners to feel less appreciated and important.
Studies show that sleep isn’t just a luxury. It’s something that people need for their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. It can even help to improve your personal and business finances. That said, it starts with you making sleep a priority and taking steps like choosing a comfortable mattress. If you sacrifice sleep then you also sacrifice good health and wellbeing.