Waking up and feeling more tired than when you went to bed? You are not alone. Research has shown that more than 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis.
Whether it is due to a sleep disorder, busy work schedule or late nights out, many of us failed to get sufficient eye-shut at night.
Let’s look at what happens to you physically and psychologically when you are sleep deprived:
You will put on some pounds
On the next day of a bad night’s sleep, you will find yourself craving for excessive unhealthy snacks. Researchers have shown that people who are sleep deprived are more likely to go for junk food than healthier options. A single night of sleep deprivation is enough to mess up your metabolic rate and increase the ghrelin levels which act as an appetite stimulant. Not having enough sleep, in the long run, might cause weight gain or stagnant fat loss even if you exercise.
Your skin will lose its glow
Woke up like this? Not so much anymore. Beauty sleep is real! Your body renews and eliminates toxins from the skin while you snooze. Not having enough ZZZ’s slows down the cell regeneration process of your skin and changes your hormones. What happens next? Horrid dark circles, dehydration, fine lines, dull complexion, acne breakout… and the list goes on.
It will affect your thinking and emotions
Poor sleep quality affects your memory, cognitive performance and emotional equilibrium. As your logical thinking is impaired, you may find certain things at school or work harder to understand and your emotions may go haywire over minor stuff.
You will feel lack of strength and energy
Sleepiness and exhaustion of your brain from lack of shuteye lead to loss of motivation to exercise (and everything else). It can wreak havoc your strength, endurance levels and your overall fitness performance in the long run.
You will be at a higher risk
Lack of sleep can put you at a higher risk for many health issues like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, infertility and more. Fatigue is also reported to be associated with a lot of traffic accidents and industrial accidents.
Have you ever wondered why you are wide awake at 3 AM after numerous pillow-flips and attempts to go back to your dreamland? Sometimes it’s the little things around you that cause the problem.
Top 10 common reasons why you are not getting a good night’s sleep and the solutions to them beyond counting sheep:
1. You’re hungry
You cannot fall asleep because your stomach is calling for food. Have some healthy bedtime snacks to stop the rumbling but avoid eating too much into a food coma.
Here are some examples of a good bedtime snack: a banana topped with peanut butter, some almonds, lean turkey meat and a good ol’ glass of warm milk.
2. Your bedroom is not sleep-friendly
Being too warm or too cold can prevent you from having a good night’s sleep. Ideal room temperature varies from person to person. If you share your bed with your partner and you like your room warmer than your partner does, try putting on an extra blanket or leg warmers.
Another factor that can influence the quality of your sleep is light. Darkness triggers production of melatonin aka the sleep-triggering hormones in our brain, which is why we sleep at night. This hormone level can be suppressed by exposure to light, especially blue light that is emitted from all our electronic devices.
Solution? Ditch the night light and go for a home candle. Don’t forget to blow it out before you sleep.
3. Your brain is not giving up
In the age of smartphones and Instagram, they are probably the first thing we look at in the morning and the last thing we look at before bed. Using cell phones in bed not only take up your fair share of sleep, exposure to blue light also has the most harmful effect on your melatonin production and eyes.
Experts suggest avoiding using our electronic devices within an hour before bedtime to give our brain a much-needed break. If you have to use your cell phone, dim the brightness to its lowest setting.
4. Your bed is bothering you
Imagine sleeping with millions of microorganisms every single night. Gross. Not changing your sheets often enough can cause more than just some itchy bites. First, you may get irritation and skin breakouts, then you’re also susceptible to bacterial infections, skin allergies and viruses. Experts recommend changing your bedsheet at least once in a fortnight and your pillow sheet once a week.
A mattress that is too thin, too firm or too soft can slash your precious sleep hours too. On average, we spend one-third of our lifetime sleeping in bed so a comfortable mattress and a good night’s sleep are definitely worth the investment.
5. Your partner is keeping you up
Sleep compatibility in couples is just as important as personality compatibility. Many women suffer from sleep deprivation due to an incompatible sleeping partner whether it is the snoring, blanket-hogging or toss-and-turn.
First, talk to your partner about it and come up with some solutions. You may consider investing in a bigger bed and an extra blanket, changing the sleep position or getting some anti-snoring devices.
6. Body ache and soreness
It is difficult to go to bed with pain and soreness even if it is acute. Take prescribed painkillers to ease the pain or use a heat therapy patch to relax the aching muscles. Foam roller may seem like a torture device, but it is a great tool to release muscle tightness. It breaks up scar tissue and improves your circulation, helping to speed up muscle recovery.
7. Late night workout
Exercising within 3 hours of bedtime can cost you a night’s sleep as it releases adrenaline and heats up your body. Ways to cool down: Take a hot shower or bath to increase blood flow to the skin, resulting in a cool-down. Spend a few minutes on stretching your major muscle groups, you will thank yourself the next morning.
If you find yourself struggling to fall asleep after a late night workout, try exercising at least 4 hours before bedtime, lower the intensity of your workout or even make night workout a daily routine so your body gets used to it!
8. Caffeine and sugar
If you think that cup of latte in the mid-afternoon is not the reason that keeps you up at night, here’s something you might need to know: the first half of caffeine consumed stays in your system for about 4 to 6 hours, and the second half may last longer than that. Experts suggest avoiding caffeine consumption after 3 PM if you are sensitive to caffeine, as it might leave you feeling restless at night even just a small amount of it.
To flush caffeine out of your system, drink more water and eat vitamin C rich fruits. Exercise may also help to reduce caffeine levels by burning off the extra energy.
9. You are stressed
Stress is a normal part of life and everyone has it. An appropriate amount of stress can do you good and increase your productivity. Too much of it, however, can affect you physically and mentally and the quality of your sleep. The vicious cycle starts when your lack of sleep increases your stress level which makes you even more sleepless.
There are tons of ways to unwind the stress but here are a few simple things you can do before bedtime: meditate to soothing music, do a simple 15-min stretch ( try this), burn some calming scented candles or tidy up your desk.
10. Inconsistent bedtime
We are all creatures of habit. Our body craves consistency, just like how we need to be consistent with our workouts, our internal body clock needs a regular bedtime too. Our body gets ready for the restorative process when we have a regular sleep schedule.
To develop a bedtime routine:
Make adjustments gradually. Go to bed by 15-30 minutes earlier than the day before.
Set a timeframe that you need to get in bed.
Make time for sleep-prepping bedtime rituals such as sipping on a cup of Chamomile tea, lathering up some body lotion, giving yourself a face massage, combing your hair etc.
Set a morning alarm and stop hitting snooze. Download an alarm clock app that doesn’t come with a snooze button.
Keep the same routine on weekends.