Sleep is a vital part of our existence, and perhaps more important that eating well and working out combined. Sleeping helps relax not just the body but the brain too.
When we sleep, our experiences are processed into short term and long term memory. In a way, sleep shapes who we are. While insomnia is an ever-growing problem, it would do you a lot of good to take a minute and think about improving your sleep habits. “Why”, you ask? Because, by getting at least eight hours of sleep, you can fight away some very common lifestyle problems.
Problems Associated With Sleep-Deprivation
1. Disturbed Sleep Causes Stress
In experiments across labs, it was found that participants who did not sleep for eight hours at least had higher levels of the stress hormone.1 Eight hours of sleep does no good for stress if you keep tossing and turning all night. However, if you were to get into a consistent sleep routine and sleep soundly, you will definitely notice a shift in stress levels towards the lower end of the spectrum.
2. Inadequate Sleep Causes Major Depressive Disorder
Unlike the blues you may feel once in a while, major depressive disorder (MDD), is a very serious clinical condition. People suffering from MDD feel utterly hopeless most of the time, and experience suicidal thoughts.
Getting inadequate sleep makes us more vulnerable to negative stimuli, this serves as a risk factor for MDD. If someone you know already has MDD, sleep is not the cure and it is imperative that they receive prompt medical care. However, sleeping adequately can decrease the risk of developing MDD in the first place.2
3. Lack Of Sleep Causes Concentration Issues
Have you been feeling out of the zone lately? Do you have trouble concentrating on work and other activities? Sleep, or rather the lack of it, could very well be the culprit. Sleep disorders impair our executive function. This means that we make decisions more slowly, and also have trouble processing new information. In kids, this may show up as falling asleep during the day. Simply by getting adequate quality sleep, this problem can be eliminated entirely.3
4. Sleep Deprivation Causes Obesity
You would be surprised by just how much of an impact sleep has on weight gain. Increased stress hormone levels also cause a proportionate increase in deposition of fat around the body.
Sleep deprivation also causes people to crave more high calorie foods, as the body understands that it needs to stay alert for longer. The only caveat is that sleeping for more than nine hours has also shown a marked effect on increasing weight,4 although we think this could simply be because nine hours of sleep would leave people hardly any time to exercise.
5. Lack Of Sleep Causes Anxiety Disorders
Some amount of anxiety keeps us going, which is why we have receptors for stress in the brain to begin with. However, repeated stimulus to the amygdala in the brain can lead to a chronic sense of panic as well as anxiety disorders. When we sleep, we give our brain a chance to process information in a safe, uninterrupted manner. Instead, when we face sleep deprivation, our stress receptors are overstimulated, leading to panic.5
|↑1||Stress and Sleep. American Psychological Association.|
|↑2||Prather, Aric A., Ryan Bogdan, and PhD Ahmad R. Hariri. “Impact of sleep quality on amygdala reactivity, negative affect, and perceived stress.” Psychosomatic medicine 75, no. 4 (2013): 350.|
|↑3||How Lack of Sleep Impacts Cognitive Performance and Focus. National Sleep Foundation.|
|↑4||Mann, Denise. “Sleep and Weight Gain.” WebMD. com. Available from: http://www. webmd. com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/lack-of-sleep-weight-gain (2010).|
|↑5||Goldstein, Andrea N., Stephanie M. Greer, Jared M. Saletin, Allison G. Harvey, Jack B. Nitschke, and Matthew P. Walker. “Tired and apprehensive: anxiety amplifies the impact of sleep loss on aversive brain anticipation.” Journal of Neuroscience 33, no. 26 (2013): 10607-10615.|