Published June 26, 2013
Dark under-eye circles and grogginess aren’t the only side effects of lack of sleep. While these signs may show the world that you’re tired, the worst side effects are some you might not even have attributed to your late nights.
Difficulty losing weight, inability to concentrate, impaired judgment, low sex drive, depression and reduced insulin sensitivity are all side effects of not getting enough sleep.
According to The National Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. Trying to catch up on sleep a few days a week won’t do much to help. As little as one night of sleep deprivation will get in the way of your body’s ability to maintain homeostasis, so aim for adequate sleep every night.
Since many people don’t have the luxury of sleeping in on a regular basis, trouble falling asleep or staying asleep can lead to severe sleep deprivation. Making some changes to your current routine can make all the difference in helping you fall asleep faster and staying asleep all night.
Get rid of your worries. Staying up all night worrying is a common cause of insomnia. Instead of mulling your worries over in your brain all night, try writing them down. Write down anything and everything that is keeping your brain going instead of relaxing; it doesn’t have to be a novel, a quick word or two is enough. Remind yourself that worrying doesn’t serve you, especially at night, and you can pick your worries back up in the morning.
End on a positive note. Looking at the world in a positive light has a calming effect on the mind. Make a list of at least five things you are grateful for every night. Think about how others helped you, how you helped others and what you learned that day. Begin each sentence by writing “Thank you for” or “I am grateful for.”
Take time to relax. Staring at the TV right before bed means you’ll have to give your brain time to unwind once you turn it off. Turn off all your screens (TV, computer and phone) for at least thirty minutes before going to bed. Take this time to do something relaxing like reading, deep breathing, and meditation or listening to relaxing music.
Sleep in a cave. The tiniest bit of light can upset your circadian rhythm and your production of both serotonin and melatonin. Invest in some blackout curtains and get rid of any electronics with lights that stay on all night. At the very least, using a sleep mask can improve your sleep. Turning on a light in the middle of the night can interrupt the production of melatonin so clear a path to the bathroom so you don’t need to turn on the light to help get you there.
Toss your alarm clock. Trade your traditional alarm clock that beeps to wake you up with one that lights up. Increased levels of light trigger the production of serotonin, helping you to wake up more naturally and feel more energized than being jolted awake by loud beeping. Exposing yourself to bright light as soon as you wake up also improves your cortisol awakening response, which can lead to better sleep at night.
Get tested. If chronic sleep disturbances are a problem consider getting your magnesium and hormone levels checked. Magnesium deficiency, as well as hormone imbalances, are linked with sleep disorders and proper supplementation can help reduce stress and create restful sleep.