The effects of sleep deprivation on your health

Weight Loss
Coach Shivani
January 12,2023

Sleep is vital to human survival and good health. The body needs sleep just as much as it needs air and food. The body’s chemical systems repair themselves while you sleep. Your brain makes new connections between ideas, which improves memory. Sleep is important to the human body, but many people don’t get enough of it. It is always thought of as a ‘nice to have’. It is important to know the effects of sleep deprivation.

Sleep deprivation results from insufficient or good-quality sleep. Less than 7 hours of sleep every night is considered inadequate, and it can harm your health. A sleep problem might also be the actual cause of this.

Both your body and brain will not function properly if you don’t get enough sleep. Your life’s quality may even decrease as a result. Lack of sleep has been linked to several health issues, including immune system deterioration and weight increase. As a result, your physical and mental health is compromised.

How much sleep is good for health?

The science of sleep has been studied for many years now, and more research continues as countries all over the world grapple with the health problems that arise from insufficient sleep.  

The amount of sleep we need changes with age.

The National Sleep Foundation (USA) has put together a very helpful chart setting out the recommended ranges for sleep (see below).

As noted above, the goal for adults should be at least 7 hrs sleep on a regular basis.

 

You might think that you are doing ok with lesser sleep, but the reality is usually that your body is coping with lesser sleep. Problems will emerge in due course unless you improve your sleep habits. 

What is sleep deprivation and reasons for it?

Sleep deprivation is the inability to get enough or good-quality sleep. Even though the body requires sleep just as much as it needs food and water, many people don’t get enough of it. 

There could be many medical reasons for this. But there is an important reason for most people that is more about lifestyle than anything else.

 

We live in a Swiggy & Netflix world. A world where you have more conveniences than ever before.  But also a world where your life seems busier than ever before.  And more tiring.

 

The demands on our time seem endless. Long days at work, daily commutes, catching-up on news, social media, a seemingly endless list of whatsapp groups, spending time with family and friends, some chores at home, helping the kids with some homework, some TV etc. If that isn’t enough, there is always the backlog of things that you never seem to get time to do, like a walk or a workout or that book you’ve been meaning to read.

Even though the day is spent mostly sitting and staring at screens, it’s somehow exhausting. Before you know it, the day is gone and you feel like you’re in low-battery mode and in need of a recharge. At some point you’ve got to go to bed, and so you do.

But sleep rarely follows. You might find that you are often unable to fall asleep as you are still thinking about things that happened during the day or that last news headline you read disturbed you or sometimes for no reason at all.

 

Here is the problem: we seem to think of sleep as something that just happens automatically. And that’s just not the case.

 

The body is supposed to do this thing called sleeping whenever it is that we decide that we’re done for the day and go lie down on our bed. That could be 10pm today, 1am tomorrow or something else.

That’s not how the body works. Your body does not know when you’re done for the day. Your body pieces this together based on various clues that it receives from you and your environment. Here are some examples:

  • Light: Light is the most important signal your body uses to set your sleep/wake cycle. All light whether natural (sunlight) or artificial (office and home lighting, lights from bright displays like a TV, tablet or phone) signals to your body that it is daytime. 
  • Your habits: your daily schedule and the order in which you perform tasks.
  • Ambient temperature: the temperature in your home and bedroom.
  • Meal times: when you have your last meal.
  • Stress levels.
  • Exercise.

Changes to all these factors can disrupt your body’s sleep schedule and lead to sleep deprivation over time.

 

Being surrounded by bright lights all the time, for example, can mean that your body is just not ready to sleep when you turn the lights off.

 

About 15-20 years ago, it was typical for people to wake up around sunrise and then go to bed soon after sunset. There were no signals to disrupt this – like artificial light late at night. Today, many things can disrupt the above factors – light, meal times, stress etc and disrupt your body’s sleep schedule.

Having a power down ritual or sleep schedule is a proven way to deal with this.

Signs & symptoms that you are sleep deprived

Significant symptoms of inadequate sleep include:

  • Persistent exhaustion and feeling low on energy
  • Poor memory; and
  • Mood swings.

The primary sign of not getting enough sleep is daytime tiredness. You might feel like you are in low-battery mode all the time. It’s important to pay attention to this and take action.

How lack of sleep affects your health

Adults who don’t get enough sleep are at a higher risk for many health problems. The following are some of the possible effects of sleep deprivation for extended periods of time.

  • One such problem is high blood pressure. It has been demonstrated that getting enough sleep lowers blood pressure. If you have trouble falling asleep, your blood pressure will stay high for a long time.
  • Diabetes patients often have high blood sugar levels, which can harm the lining of the blood vessels. According to several studies, those who get enough sleep may be better able to maintain appropriate blood sugar levels.
  • A person who is sleep deprived is more prone to accidents, mistakes, and impaired judgment. Your hand-eye coordination will be affected akin to being 0.1% intoxicated by alcohol after being up for 24 hours. Because of this, sleep deprivation raises the possibility of accidents in common areas like cars and workplaces.

Sleep problems might bring on unhealthy weight gain. This is crucial for young people since they need more sleep than adults. Lack of sleep might impact the part of the brain that controls appetite. This is one of the biggest effects of sleep deprivation which leads to weight gain.

Impact of poor sleep on your body weight

Inadequate sleep could be a big contributor to weight gain.

It’s not hard to see why – the longer you are awake, the more you are likely to eat.  That need for a midnight snack is actually triggered by your body.

When you don’t get enough sleep, your hormones become out of sync, which makes you more tempted to binge and gain weight. Not getting enough sleep leads your body to create less of the hunger-suppressing hormones leptin and ghrelin. You’ll get hungry quicker.

sleep and weight gain

High concentrations of cortisol, a stress hormone, and low growth hormone levels have been connected to obesity. Inadequate sleep has also been related to decreased digestion.

Not getting enough sleep could influence your weight in more ways than one. Lack of sleep has been related to increased consumption of high-calorie meals as what you eat late at night will usually not be healthy foods. Sleep-deprived people also tend to be less physically active than their well-rested counterparts.

 

Poor sleep can thus lead to weight gain. Similarly, poor sleep can also prevent weight loss.

 

Even with the best diet and exercise schedule, you may not see weight loss results unless you fix your sleep habits. This is one of the biggest effects of sleep deprivation which is not given enough attention.

Also Read : Weight Loss Programs Exercise

Tips for better sleep

Some tips to help you fall asleep:

  • Don’t drink too much water in the hour or so before bedtime.
  • Have your last coffee earlier in the day.
  • Dim the lights at home after sunset.
  • Stay away from all electronic devices (TV, phones, tablets etc) for at least 30 minutes before you want to sleep. Try reading a book (a physical one!).
  • Make your sleeping room as dark as it can be. There should be no light creeping in anywhere.  Ideally, it should be pitch black.
  • Try to have a bedtime routine – could be a shower, reading a book, some light stretches or a combination of such things.  It helps to have a routine as your body will realize it needs to wind down and ease you into sleep.
  • Find a comfortable posture to lie down, and just focus on your breathing.  Inhale and exhale – just stay relaxed and the sleep will follow.

Conclusion

Sleep is crucial for good health. And sleep and weight loss are connected. You should now have a good idea about the effects of sleep deprivation.

Getting to a healthy weight and staying there is only possible if you fix your sleeping habits.  Weight loss and weight maintenance is not just about diet and exercise, sleep is also a critical part of the solution.  Sadly, it’s rarely considered in a proper way and this leads to poor progress and frustration.

We recognize this fully and focus a lot on sleep in the Daily9 weight loss program.  ‍When we help people fix their sleep, what we see is:

  • sugar cravings go down
  • mental alertness goes up
  • energy levels and productivity go up
  • progress with weight loss
  • eating patterns get better
  • immunity goes up.

The opposite is also true, not fixing your sleep/wake cycle leads to many effects – sugar cravings, low energy levels, mental fogginess, low productivity at work etc.

You owe it to yourself to develop better sleep habits and a ‘power down’ ritual that works for you.  Your body and mind will thank you for it.

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