Getting that elusive full night of uninterrupted sleep is more a dream the older you get. But even if you’re young and feel rushed by daily activity, uninterrupted sleep can be hard to come by. Many studies have proven that sleep is one of the most important activities that promotes a healthy lifestyle. The link between a lack of sleep and weight gain has been well documented. But there are far more consequences to your health and happiness that a lack of sleep can inflict on your body and mind.
Everyone needs on average 8 hours of full sleep. One third of ever 24 hours goes toward this activity. But few people know how to get the most from a restful night of sleep. We don’t see sleep as something we can control like we can our daily activities.
The lack of sleep can greatly reduce the energy of both body and mind. Many people walk through life half asleep, often going through the motions from the moment they wake up tired and go to bed tired. What are the unhealthy effects if you don’t get enough sleep?
Recent research has shown a connection between poor sleep and mental illness. In one study, subjects were kept awake for 35 hours. Brain scans showed that brain fatigue increased irritability with cognitive decline in processing information. A tired brain can’t think and solve problems than someone refreshed. In today’s world where many don’t get enough sleep, that translates to lost efficiency on the job and the inability to handle the daily activities of family life.
The Lack of Sleep and Diabetes
Weight gain is due to poor sleeping habits. What isn’t understood is how the body functions when it hasn’t received enough rest. Sleep deprivation lowers glucose tolerance levels. The body becomes stressed and a great amount of stress causes the body to pump cortisol into the bloodstream. As cortisol rises, so do glucose levels in response to the stress. As any diabetic knows, high levels of glucose needs insulin to keep those levels stable. The pancreas pumps out insulin to help get the glucose to the cells of the body where it can be stored and used later for energy. Frequent loss of sleep leads to more insulin in the body. Eventually, the body’s cells become resistant to the rising insulin. This eventually leads to full blown diabetes.
Lack of Sleep and Aging
Except for cortisol and insulin, key hormones drop for the man or woman have been found to be similar to those levels found in older adults. Metabolic functions are reduced. The body becomes less efficient in storing and processing carbohydrates. What’s shocking is that research has shown that such aging effects can occur in a healthy body in less than a single week of sleeplessness.
Stress rises when you don’t get enough sleep. The immune system becomes weak and you become more vulnerable to colds, infections and disease. Cancer and heart disease result from a weakened immune system. Those who get little sleep are at risk of mental disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Sleep is an important part of life. If you have a chronic sleep problem, you should see your doctor. While sleeping pills and other medications do help, they have side effects. According to one Oregon State University study, one of two groups received sleeping pills while the other received placebos. The sleeping pill group fell asleep a mere 12.8 minutes faster than the placebo group and slept 11.4 minutes more. Hardly worth the price of $3.50 for a single pill.
The best way to insure sleep is by addressing the cause of sleeplessness. Often, it comes from the stresses of the day. Worries, fears and anxieties keep many eyes open through the night. This can be rectified by creating a home environment in the late evenings to promote relaxation and the need for sleep. Taking a warm bath, listening to soft music or drinking some herbal teas can put you into the mood to doze off.
There are numerous and natural methods that can help you get the sleep you need. The older you get, the more necessary it is to take steps to avoid the unhealthy consequences that too little sleep gives you.