We all know what it feels like to stumble out of bed after a poor night’s sleep. Not getting enough shuteye can make us feel tired and moody and it can make concentrating on even basic tasks a challenge. From forgetting to feed the cat to drifting off at your desk and picking arguments with your partner, a shortage of sleep can cause a range of problems. But does a lack of rest just make us more argumentative, forgetful and drowsy or does sleep play a more fundamental role in keeping us healthy and happy?
Surprising things a lack of sleep can do to your body and mind
Many people don’t realise it, but over the long term, a shortfall of sleep can have serious consequences for both body and mind. For example, forget feeling a little bit irritable, prolonged insomnia can increase your risk of developing mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
It can also make you more likely to suffer a range of serious medical conditions, including heart disease. Prolonged sleep deprivation is associated with a raised heart rate, higher levels of chemicals linked to inflammation and a rise in blood pressure, all of which can put strain on your heart. Insomnia might increase your chances of developing diabetes too. Experts suggest that missing out on deep sleep could alter the way we process glucose and therefore elevate our risk of type 2 diabetes.
A lack of shuteye can also harm your immune system, making it harder to fend off colds, flu and other infections. Perhaps even more surprisingly, it’s thought that a shortage of sleep can make you more likely to be overweight. This is because sleep deprived people have reduced levels of the chemical leptin, which makes us feel full, and increased levels of the hunger-stimulating chemical ghrelin.
Insomnia might even impact on your ability to start a family. Regular disruptions to sleep have been shown to reduce the secretion of reproductive hormones, which can make it harder to conceive.
What to do if you're not getting enough of the stuff
If you’re concerned about your sleep patterns and think you might not be getting enough of the stuff, it could be time to make some changes. For example, if you don’t already do this, try to stick to regular hours when it comes to going to bed and getting up, even when you’re not in work. Also, avoid consuming lots of caffeine and don’t eat big meals close to lights out. It also helps to spend an hour or so relaxing before you hit the hay. Taking a bath, reading a book or doing some gentle yoga could put you in the perfect frame of mind to fall asleep. It’s a good idea to steer clear of electronics like your TV, laptop and mobile when you’re winding down too.
Think about your bedroom setup as well. For example, if your bed and mattress don’t make the grade, you may benefit from investing in new ones. For the ultimate in convenience and comfort, it’s hard to beat adjustable beds and our designs feature relaxing massage settings that can make it even easier to nod off at night.
It’s hard to overestimate the importance of getting enough sleep, so it’s well worth taking steps like these to enhance your slumber.