Sleep and health are closely related. If you can’t get enough sleep or if you have a love-hate relationship with sleep, then it can have a major impact on your health.
A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book!
Although the relationship between sleep and overall health is not fully understood, everyone knows how amazing it feels after a good night’s sleep. We rise full of energy, refreshed and ready for another rewarding day.
But at the same time, lack of sleep can leave you grumpy and foggy. It can drain your physical and mental wellness. It can impact the way your feel, the way you look, your memory and even the ability to lose weight.
Long-term sleep deprivation has been associated with a wide range of deleterious health consequences such as the increased risk for cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, depression and in fact – sleep deprivation can shorten your life expectancy too.
What happens to the body while we’re asleep?
Did you know that while we’re sleeping, there are amazing things happening in our body?
Yes, there are myriad essential things happening while we’re asleep. For instance, there are several hormones released into the bloodstream including growth hormones for tissue repair and even hormones for balancing our appetite.
The brain is also actively working while we sleep. It is busy consolidating all the day’s information and storing it, which is why sleeping well is necessary for enhancing cognitive ability.
Our nervous system gets the time to relax and without proper rest, it can work irrationally causing increased blood pressure.
In addition, sleep is also vital for regulating our immune system and managing stress.
How does sleep deprivation affect heart health?
Apart from making us grumpy and tired, studies have also shown that sleep deprivation acutely increases blood pressure and nervous system activity that is shown to cause hypertension and increased heartbeat.
Another study found that people sleeping less than six hours per night had a 20% higher chance of a heart attack.
Not only that, even mild sleeplessness or frequent sleep interruption is linked to a higher risk of heart attacks. And the reason could be both heart rate and blood pressure abruptly spiking upon awakening, causing cardiac stress which may induce a heart attack.
How does sleep deprivation affect your mental health?
After many nights of sleeplessness, your mental health can start deteriorating. Slowly the brain will start to fog, facing difficulty concentrating and make decisions.
You’ll start to find your days more tiring, lacking the enthusiasm to participate and even feeling stressed to socialise.
When we lack sleep, it causes the brain to consolidate things and influences mood and emotions accordingly, which is known to be associated with mental health issues and their severity.
Additionally, a study has also found that sleeping patterns are core to mental disorders, with 75% of depressed people showing some symptoms of insomnia.
If you’re worried about sleep deprivation
If mild or regular sleep deprivation is something you face, you’ll need to fix it for improving your overall health.
So, try these things out;
- Assuming we need 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, work on an ideal sleep cycle. For example, someone doing a 9 to 5 can ideally choose to sleep at least 7 to 8 hrs.
- Don’t nap during other times of the day
- Reduce caffeine intake
- Avoid coffee after the evening
- Cut down on smoking and drinking
- Do some activities to relax your mind
- Visit a doctor if you think it is out of your control