Everyone and their mother tells you that you are supposed to get 8-hours of sleep each night, but is that actually true? Are there long-term consequences of sleep deprivation? How does not getting enough sleep affect your brain and body?
How Much Sleep Should You Get?
It’s true that you need to get plenty of rest, but not everyone needs a full 8 hours every night. Most adults do best with an average of 8 hours, but some people may thrive on 6 or 7, or possibly 9 or 10. How much sleep you need depends on your anatomy, your health, and what you do throughout the day. Some people may work long shifts, up to 16 hours at a time, and need to spend 10 or more hours sleeping to recuperate. Others may work from home for just a few hours a day and feel comfortable with a little less sleep.
In general, you should never get less than 6 hours of sleep, and most adults should aim for right around that magic number 8.
Signs You Need More Sleep
So, how do you know if you’re sleep-deprived? Aside from the obvious (you feel tired), some signs that you need to get more sleep include:
If you find yourself squinting, rubbing your eyes, or struggling to focus, you could be experiencing eye strain. Sleep-deprived eyes feel sore and over-extended, and often become dry and itchy, which causes the extra rubbing. Eye strain isn’t just uncomfortable, it can affect the quality of your vision, and result in tension headaches or migraines. Eye strain is one of the first signs of sleep deprivation, so pay attention to how your peepers are feeling!
Poor Memory & Concentration
Sleep deprivation affects cognitive function, reducing your capacity for short-term memory, focus, and concentration. Poor memory and concentration aren’t just bad for getting stuff right at work, it can be dangerous. Imagine trying to drive a car while battling the effects of not sleeping enough; it’s almost as dangerous as texting while driving or driving intoxicated. If you find yourself having a hard time focusing, stop what you are doing and take a nap!
Consequences of Sleep Deprivation
So, what are the consequences of sleep deprivation if it isn’t addressed? Long term, the consequences of sleep deprivation can be life-altering, affecting both mind and body. If you begin to experience some of the common side effects of not sleeping enough, it’s important to address it right away before sleep deprivation gets more serious. If it goes unaddressed, you could be facing more serious issues that take more than a nap to fix.
Hair loss due to sleep deprivation is rare, but not unheard of. Sleep plays a huge role in preventing oxidative stress and keeping your body healthy, but when you deprive it of sleep, your body is forced to reallocate resources. Unfortunately, excess stress can lead to hair thinning thanks to an increased output of the stress hormone cortisol. To make matters worse, you are less likely to be taking good care of your hair in your sleep-deprived state, which can also lead to thinning and hair loss.
Even if you do not experience anxiety regularly in your daily life, sleep deprivation anxiety is quite common. Without sleep, your brain has no time to rest, and you can become far more easily overwhelmed and upset. Anxiety resulting from lack of sleep is all too common and makes getting daily tasks done even more difficult. If you have ever tried to go to bed after a long day, but instead spent hours staring at the ceiling and worrying about everything you have to do the next day, you know that sleep deprivation triggered anxiety is no joke.
If you have ever pulled an all-nighter to finish a paper, then taken a short nap only to wake up feeling disgusting, you have probably already guessed that sleep deprivation causes nausea. Your body needs sleep to digest and re-energize, and a lack of sleep can result in you running on fumes. More specifically, you can end up running only on adrenaline and pure will, which can make your body respond with nausea.
How To Get Better Sleep At Night
If you’ve been reading this in search of answers for your sleeplessness, chances are you have probably already tried all the usual recommendations. If drinking tea, getting proper exercise, and doing your work on a schedule hasn’t improved your sleep, it might be time to try something different. Here are just a few tricks we use to help ourselves sleep after periods of sleep deprivation:
Make a Bedtime Routine
Having a bedtime routine (yes, just like when you were a kid) is a great way to help put your mind in the right state for sleep. By creating a consistent routine that you stick to, you’ll begin to naturally associate your ritual with getting tired. Even if you’ve had a long, stressful day, doing your bedtime routine should help you to begin relaxing, and put your mind in a calmer, more grounded state. Some steps that you can include are:
Skincare/washing your face
Putting your phone and electronics away
Getting changed into something comfortable
Switching on a fan or white noise machine
Doing a few simple stretches
Read a Book
If you find your mind wandering while laying in bed, try reading a book to keep yourself focused but calm. While many people like to look at their phones, smartphones give us virtually unlimited options for entertainment and stress, from social media and news to our emails to the latest episode of your favorite show. A book offers only two options: read, or don’t read. By giving yourself a simple task, you can avoid your mind wandering without giving it so much to focus on that you get stressed.
Take Rest by Vitaldiol
To help yourself ease gently into sleep, try taking Rest by Vitaldiol. Each Rest tablet features 35 mg of CBD to help the mind and body reach a state of calm and relaxation, plus 5 mg of melatonin to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. While you rest, the CBD helps to reduce inflammation, improve cellular restoration, and get you ready for another full day of fun! When you wake up, you won’t experience any of the grogginess of prescription sleeping pills; you’ll feel refreshed and ready to face the day.