Too often people think that sacrificing sleep is just a part of living a busy life. The thinking goes like this: going to bed later and waking up earlier means more hours to be productive throughout the day. But this thinking is backwards.
The less quality sleep a person gets, the lower quality their output is throughout the day. In fact, a lack of sleep can have devastating side effects in the long run, and even shorten a person’s life. Doesn’t sound very productive when you think about it that way, does it?
A lack of sleep and an unhealthy life go hand in hand. Tired people are often fuelled by high doses of caffeine, chronic dehydration, poor eating habits of fatty and sugary foods, poor judgment can all spiral out of control into high incidences of disease, chronic pain and an overall damaged immune system.
There is a correlation between a lack of sleep and some altogether devastating conditions
Lack of sleep and depression feed each other. Studies of insomniacs found high levels of depression, and depressed people are found to have poor sleep habits. Once one starts to occur, so does the other and it can be a very difficult cycle to break.
It is found that in the long-term, a lack of quality sleep can lead to weight gain and result in obesity. There is a correlation between a lack of sleep and increased cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods. And a lack of sleep can create imbalances in the hormones that regulate hunger and the feeling of being full.
Sleep deprived people become more accident prone. In fact, some remarkably disastrous world events can be attributed to exhaustion including oil spills and nuclear disasters. On a smaller scale, traffic accidents are often caused by people “zoning out” or falling asleep at the wheel, putting themselves and everyone else on the road at grave risk.
The more research that’s done, the more links are found between a lack of sleep and serious, sometimes fatal, disease. Many of these affect the heart and are difficult to reverse. An incomplete list of conditions include: heart disease and an irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, increased risk of diabetes, higher incidences of strokes and heart attacks.
A lack of sleep can cause the systems which keep us young and youthful to break down. Skin around the eyes is usually what people notice the most with puffiness and dark circles appearing around the eyes. Skin can become sallow, sagging, and yellow-ish from a lack of sleep because the collagen that keeps skin elastic begins to deteriorate more quickly when quality sleep disappears.
The irony is that the less sleep a person gets, the worse their judgment becomes about how tired they are and how much sleep they should be getting. Exhausted people tend to put off getting to sleep at a reasonable hour and can be prone to having a restless sleep throughout the night. They become sleep avoidant, which puts them into the difficult cycle of being unable to achieve quality sleep.
While all this sounds very grim, the good news is that with a few small adjustments to behaviour, it is very possible to go from a lack of sleep to achieving quality rest. It is well worth the investment and quality sleep improves the quality of life!