How To Tell if You're Sleep Deprived
The CDC estimates that somewhere between 50 - 70 million people have trouble sleeping. American adults are sleeping less than ever. Compared to 20 years ago, we're getting way less sleep. There are many factors that play into this lack of sleep epidemic -- our jobs, our technology, our emotional states, our diet, our stress, the list goes on and on. One thing that is clear is that we've normalized how crummy it feels to not get enough restorative sleep each night, so it's hard to tell when your sleep is becoming chronically problematic. Beyond feeling tired all of the time, which can also be a lack of sleep messing with your hormones, we dug around to find a few more telltale signs that you need more sleep in your life.
I. You Eat More Than You Need to, and You Reach for Sugar
If you find yourself reaching for sugar and extra calories as a quick fix to waning energy, you likely need to sleep more. On average, people who sleep fewer than 7 hours a night will reach for 700 extra calories per day to get them through. The snacks and food that they usually reach for are full of sugar for a quick burst of energy, this obviously does not so great things to your waistline. Roughly 40% of Americans are getting fewer than 7 hours of sleep each night.
II. You're Grumpy
This one is pretty obvious, we think. People who sleep less tend to let their temper take over more quickly than people who got a solid night of shut eye. Sleep loss is associated with greater emotional reactivity, hostility, and irritability. On the other hand, adequate sleep has been show to impact mood more positively and lead to a more friendly, happier, and improved mood.
III. Your Motivation is in the Dumps
Sleep deprivation has long term consequences for your body and mind, but also your life quality indicators and ambition. As this study reports, "when sleep deprived, the ability to perform tasks that require additional energy is impaired and the ability of the system to overcome the deficiencies caused by sleep loss is limited. Taking on tasks that require effort including school work, meal preparation... appear to be more challenging during sleep loss." What's interesting is that as we learned above, being sleep deprived makes it hard to regulate your emotional reactivity. This goes hand in hand with your motivation, as when you can't regulate your negative emotions well, you can't drum up the positive emotions needed to take on tasks throughout your day.
IV. Your Skin Looks Bad
When you sleep, your body goes into restoration mode. It cleans up and repairs things that take a beating throughout the day - including your skin. During the night your body releases anti-aging growth factors and hormones that help keep your body in tip top shape. But, if you're not getting enough quality sleep, your body won't hit the sleep cycles where these factors are released. Think of the term "Beauty Rest," because this is where it comes from. Additionally, sleep deprivation can lead to and be caused by oxidative stress which is measured by the amount of free radicals in your body as well as cortisol -- a stress hormone. When excessive cortisol is present in the blood stream, growth hormone and IGF-1 (two of the growth factors that help keep you young are released during deep wave sleep) won't be released.
V. You're Putting on Weight
In addition to sleep loss causing you to pick up 700 extra carb filled calories each day, which will certainly help you pack on pounds, lack of sleep can pack on pounds for a number of other reasons too. Sleep helps you recover from a workout and if you're not getting adequate rest after hitting the gym, you'll be less likely to stick to your dedicated gym time due to soreness and general tiredness. Other weight related issues arise when sleep falters, such as hormone imbalances, poor blood sugar responses, and increased cortisol levels. Research done by the American Journal of Epidemiology observed that sleep deprived women are a third more likely to gain 33 pounds over the next 16 years than those who sleep at least 7 hours per night.
If you want more information about how to get an incredible night of sleep, we suggest checking out our blog post: 7 Steps to the Perfect Night of Sleep.