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Sleep deprivation is not a nice thing. In the short term, it can make you grouchy and forgetful. You don’t perform at your best (and you won’t even feel like you want to). Worst of all: these are just the short-term effects. The long-term ones are much more severe:
Constant sleep deprivation alters chemicals and hormones in the body in a way that places a greater risk on the individual of developing heart disease. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are additional health complications you could experience if you’re regularly not getting enough sleep. Don’t burn the candle at both ends if you can avoid it.
A scary word, but the risk is real, unfortunately. Researchers have linked sleep deprivation to the risk of some forms of cancer, such as breast cancer. They suspect that the disruptions in circadian rhythms, which regulate when we sleep, could be to blame. If you work shifts, you may experience disruption to your body’s natural biological clock and may wish to seek further advice on how to organise their schedule so you can observe healthier sleeping habits.
According to research, people who get less than 7 hours of sleep a night tend to put on weight and are more likely to become obese. The reason is sleep-deprived people experience lower levels of leptin, the chemical which makes you feel full, but higher levels of the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin. Lifestyle and dietary changes can help to reverse some of the damage from the sleep deprivation, though.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is an unpleasant condition that causes you to have high levels of sugar in the blood. Scientists believe the lack of sleep changes the way the body processes glucose. If you end up on the receiving end of this condition, you can expect a poorer quality of life because you’ll have to change your diet, take medicine and have regular check-ups. Tiredness, excessive thirst and a need to use the toilet more are all symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
Tackling sleep deprivation
The good news is, sleep deprivation isn’t completely out of your hands. Some simple lifestyle changes below could help you to get more sleep and tilt the odds of good health back in your favour:
Observe a regular sleep pattern
Set a regular routine for yourself in which you go to sleep at the same time and wake up at the same time. This helps to train your body for sleep.
Wind down before sleeping
Ease your body into sleeping with a restful activity 30 minutes to an hour before you go to sleep. This could be a nice warm bath, some meditation or some light reading. Listening to music is also helpful.
Steer clear of social or recreational drugs before bedtime
Caffeine and nicotine are both stimulants, so you should stay away from them 4 hours or less before bedtime. Don’t let the soothing feel of a smoke before bedtime fool you: nicotine is a stimulant and the smoke will hinder your sleep, rather than help it. Alcohol, which is a depressant, may help you to fall asleep, but the metabolism of alcohol will cause you to wake up as the body sets about clearing it from the system.
Exercise during the day
Exercise increases your heart rate and core body temperature, and triggers the release of adrenaline in your system. If you exercise three hours or less to bedtime, you may find it more difficult to sleep. Exercising earlier in the day could help you get to sleep more easily later if evening workouts are making this the case.
Of course, as well as all the measures above, you should consider your mattress and if it’s still serving you well. If it’s uncomfortable or showing signs of any wear and tear, then it’s time to change it because settling for an inadequate mattress will have a significant bearing on how you sleep and, consequently, your health. We have a variety of mattresses here at Bedstar. Check them out and choose the one that suits you best for a restful sleep.