Sleep is important to function properly and how much we need varies as we are different, and this changes as we get older.
Usually sleep problems go within about a month. Longer periods of lack of it can start to affect our lives negatively and our physical and mental health.
The common types of sleeping disorders
Insomnia – recurring problems in falling or staying asleep
Narcolepsy – characterised by attacks of brief overwhelming attacks of sleepiness (sleep attacks)
Sleep deprivation can lead to many other problems
- It causes extreme tiredness and poor concentration making usually manageable tasks harder.
- It is a predictor for depression.
- Affects your mood causing physical brain reactions that can trigger anxiety.
- It is also a predictor for weight gain – Above all, sleep is critical if you want to lose weight and the more sleep the more fat you burn. It boosts the insulin response thereby increasing the body’s ability to lose fat.
- Immune system suppression – not sleeping is a predictor for developing different forms of cancer (bowel, prostate, breast). WHO classified night-time work as jobs that may induce cancer (because of the link with cancer).
- Impact on the cardiovascular system – sleep is a like natural blood pressure medication. As a result, the heart rate and blood pressure drop when sleeping which reboots the cardiovascular system. Consequently, not sleeping is linked with increased risk of heart tack or stroke in your lifetime.
- Causes slow reaction time (risky if you are driving or operating heavy machinery).
- Not sleeping leads to a toxic protein in the brain ‘beta amyloid’ associated with Alzheimer’s.
- Because the brain does maintenance work when we are asleep and washes away toxins, the more one doesn’t sleep the more toxin proteins build up increasing the risk of diseases for example Alzheimer’s.
- It affects the reproductive system – men not sleeping for 5-6 hrs have testosterone levels of someone who is 10 yrs older. In women a 20% reduction in a critical hormone for getting pregnant (FSH).
- After 16 hrs of being awake – the mental and physiological deterioration in the body
Tips for better sleep.
- Eat dinner early. Don’t eat after 8pm
- Dim down your bedroom lights. keep away from LED screens blue lights (phones, tablets, TVs) which may interfere with the production of melatonin. They fool the brain that its daytime). Melatonin (hormone) is released when it’s dark and it helps with sleep.
- Keep the bedroom temperature cool about 18C – the brain and body need to drop their temp to initiate good sleep. Being in a very cold or very hot room will affect you.
- Have some chamomile tea
- Have a warm bath/shower
- Drinking enough water – research suggests that hydration and sleep may be related, and its effects and those of dehydration are similar to those of lack of (feeling sluggish, mood swings, dry mouth, dizziness, headache). To read more about how dehydration affects the body read this Blog
- Go to bed at same time daily (ideally about 10pm)
- Pray & be grateful for day
- Try Sleeping naked
- Limit alcohol and drug intake – excessive alcohol will affect your sleep. Alcohol is a sedative which knocks out the brain instead of naturally falling asleep. That’s why you might end up waking up several times within the night.
- Create a routine – (meals time, sleeping, waking up, fun, revising etc) and try sticking with it. It gives a structure and purpose to the day and can help you cope with change and reduce stress levels. Routine can be an anchor knowing what you are doing and can bring comfort.
- And avoid drinking caffeine at least 6 hrs before bed (energy drinks, tea, coffee).
Sleep apnea – causes one to temporarily stop breathing until the decreased oxygen levels wake them up
- Decrease bedroom humidity.
- Essential oils are helpful e.g lavender
- Try magnesium supplements – helps the body to relax and reduces stress helping you to stay asleep for longer.
- Optimize your Vitamin D levels.
- Prioritize sleep. The lack of it decreases your fullness hormone (leptin) and increases your hunger hormone (ghrelin) causing you to snack.
- Not sleeping reduces insulin sensitivity keeping blood sugar levels elevated. As a result, your body will then want to store energy instead of burning it.
- If you can’t fall asleep don’t stay in bed awake. The brain may start associating your bed with a place to stay awake rather than a place to sleep. Therefore, go to another room and do something for example, read a book etc then return to bed.
- Sleep regulates cortisol levels. Less of it = more cortisol. Cortisol makes you crave sugar, eat more and makes the body store fat.
- Please get those 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
Recuperation – allows the cells to rest and repair themselves
Growth– growth hormones are released by pituitary glands (that’s why babies sleep for most of the time)
Improved mental functioning – memory, allowing the brains time to process events of the day, creating our creativity
Memory -without sleep the memory inbox is shut and therefore can’t create new memories.
6 thoughts on “Sleep Deprived? 21 Tips How to Improve Sleep and Flourish”
Sleep is such an important part of the day on of our lives. This post highlights all the reasons why in an easy to follow manner. The tips you give are excellent, although I have to say that I find it difficult to put down the device or not use it when I wake up in the middle of the night. There’s a lot of room for improvement on my end. But thanks for sharing the benefits and risks involving sleep.
Thanks very much, the scary one is that night work (not sleeping) was categorized as a carcinogen by the WHO…that’s serious. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment
These are some really helpful tips! Sleep is so important for our health and mental health. I have been using a lavender spray on my pillows and my bedding and this really helps me to feel relaxed. Thank you for sharing your tips!
Thanks very much for taking the time to read and comment, that’s another useful tip to add on, very appreciated
I don’t think I’ve ever had a full seven or more hours of sleep. My current sleeping problem is that I can’t stay asleep. I had no idea magnesium could help with sleep, so I think I’ll have to look into that to see if it could help
Yes, Magnesium increases a neurotransmitter called GABA, which calms the body and encourages relaxation as well as sleep. Thanks for reading and commenting
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