February 27, 2017
Part 2: The Risks of Not Getting Enough Sleep
Depriving yourself of adequate amounts of restful sleep can be catastrophic for your overall health. It leads to poor physical health, feelings of fatigue, mental issues, and an increased risk of diseases and ailments that could impact your life expectancy.
Lack of Sleep – Mental Effects
When your brain does not get the rest that it needs to efficiently categorize memories and restore itself to normal function, the following may occur:
- Your brain will have to work harder because fatigue leads to inefficiency
- Your short-term memory will suffer
- You will have issues with long-term memory and memorization
- Your attention span will decrease
- Your ability to plan and make smart decisions suffers
- Brain cells may begin dying after prolonged sleep deprivation
Lack of Sleep – Physical Effects
The physical effects of lack of sleep are also quite pronounced:
- Your immune system will become weaker, increasing your susceptibility to illness
- Your digestive system will become less efficient, which contributes to weight gain
- Your cardiovascular system will not get the rest it needs to stay efficient
- Muscle and tissue growth will slow down
- You will feel fatigued and tired, thus making it more difficult to perform everyday tasks
Long-Term Health Consequences
Finally, long-term health consequences result from lack of sleep, including:
- Increased risk of obesity
- Increased risk of type II diabetes
- Increased risk of heart disease & stroke
- High blood pressure
And these are just a few of the long-term health effects associated with a lack of sleep. Getting proper, restful sleep is essential to maintaining a long life expectancy and reducing your risk of developing dangerous, chronic diseases.
What Can Interfere With My Sleep?
Some people try their best to get their well-deserved rest, but find themselves waking up in the middle of the night, tossing and turning, or otherwise unable to sleep deeply. There are several factors that can interfere with your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
Three common sleep disorders are:
- Sleep apnea – Obstruction of your airway causes poor breathing and snoring during sleep, reducing ability to get restful sleep.
- Insomnia – An inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, and a reduced ability to rest when you do manage to sleep.
- Restless leg syndrome – Restless leg syndrome can lead to involuntary movements of the leg that prevent sleep.
Each of these conditions can have a negative effect on your ability to get restful sleep, and if you suspect you suffer from any of them, you should speak with a certified sleep physician.
Poor Sleeping Environment
A poor sleeping environment can also be a problem if you’re trying to get plenty of restful sleep. These factors include:
- The temperature of the room you’re sleeping in
- Lights from phones, televisions, clocks, chargers, and other sources
- Noises – dogs barking, notifications from your phone, loud neighbors, trains, cars/traffic, etc.
The importance of a quality sleeping environment should not be overlooked. Take necessary steps to minimize light, noise, and distraction before falling asleep. This also includes minimizing poor sleep habits.
Poor Sleeping Habits
There are a variety of poor sleeping habits that can affect your ability to rest. These include:
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Eating heavy meals before bed
- Using mobile devices or watching TV in bed
- Ingesting caffeinated beverages within 6 hours of going to bed
- Failing to maintain a regular sleep schedule
These sleeping habits can cause a lot of harm to your body’s natural circadian rhythm and should be avoided in order to sleep deeply and peacefully.
How To Create A Sleep-Conducive Environment
Creating a sleep-conducive environment is essential to maximizing your ability to get a healthy night’s sleep.
- Reserve your bed for sleep and intimacy only. Using your bedroom and your bed solely for these two activities sleep conditions your mind to prepare to fall asleep – when you get in bed, it’s time to sleep. Nothing else.
- Avoid using electronics before bed. Scrolling social media or reading the daily news engages your mind and prevents the onset of sleep.
- Keep your room very dark. Cover up LED lights on electronics, purchase blackout shades, and take every step possible to ensure a totally darkened sleeping area. This helps your body regulate its sleep patterns.
- Keep your room quite. Some find it useful to have white noise machines, fans, or other sources of static background noise to cover up noises like neighbors, dogs barking, and other distractions.
- Maintain a cool room. A room temperature of 60-67 degrees helps your body cool down as you get ready to sleep. Consider your sleepwear as too much clothing or fabric can make it harder for your body to cool down, and decrease the quality of your sleep.
Get The Rest That You Need
Understanding the importance of sleep and taking the steps necessary to ensure you get peaceful, restorative sleep will have limitless positive effects for your life, your health, and your mind.
If you suspect that you may have a condition like sleep apnea, heavy snoring, or another sleep condition that may affect your ability to sleep, contact Sleep Dallas today. Dr. Kent Smith and his team of sleep experts can identify and treat sleep problems that rob you of the quality rest you deserve.