Getting Good Sleep for Better Health Management
Friday, 06 November 2020

 Do you know how important sleep is to your health? Feeling groggy and tired in the morning isn't the only consequence of not getting enough rest. You could be doing serious damage to your physical and mental health.

 How can you manage this situation, and what are the actual consequences of neglecting your sleeping habits?

We don't want to alarm you, but we want to help keep you in the know about why sleep has such a big impact. When it comes to managing health with an improved sleep schedule, you need to know the "why" and the "how". 

We're here to keep you informed. Keep reading to learn all about why good sleep is important for your health management. 

What Happens When We Don't Get Enough Sleep?

When you don't get enough sleep, you'll probably feel groggy and continue on with your day feeling irritable. That's not so bad, right?

Well, it depends. Losing sleep once in a while is normal. Adults are supposed to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night (though there are some outliers on either side). If you consistently get fewer hours than that, you're dealing with sleep deprivation. 

Sleep deprivation is dangerous for your body and your mind. It's also terrible for your self-care habits! Here are a few potential consequences. 

Weakened Immune System

When we're sleeping our bodies are building up their defenses against harmful bugs and bacteria. Your immune system is working hard while you rest. It's making "walls" of antibodies to protect you from illness.

When you don't get enough sleep your body can't do this efficiently. You're using too much energy for it to do its work. 

This is why you may find yourself getting the sniffles more often when you've been overtired.

Weight Gain

Believe it or not, not getting your beauty rest can affect your weight. 

Sleep helps to regulate the hormones that keep your digestive system in check. These are the hunger hormone and the "fullness" hormone. 

These hormones let your brain know when you've gotten enough food to sustain you. Without them, you'll find yourself snacking or overeating at mealtimes. 
Being too tired can also leave you with less energy to do a regular exercise routine, exacerbating the problem. 

Memory and Concentration Problems

We all know that we feel foggy when we don't get enough sleep, but why?

Our brains are rebuilding neural pathways in order for us to learn and retain new information. When we're awake, the brain can't focus on that system. It's too busy taking care of all of the other things that we need to do. 

When those pathways can't be built, we have a harder time remembering information both new and old. We also may find it hard to concentrate on new information. It's as though nothing is saving to your internal hard drive. 

Mood and Mental Health Issues

Alongside memory problems, mood disruptions can also occur from a lack of healthy sleep. 

You may begin to suffer from temporary anxiety, mania, or depression. If you go without sleep for long enough you can begin to have auditory or visual hallucinations, or experience severe paranoia. 

You'll also be more prone to mood swings. Even if you don't have a pre-existing mental health condition, the lack of sleep can make it seem as though you do. 
If you're suffering from any of these conditions or symptoms that appear to have come out of nowhere, trying to get a few nights of good sleep might help. 

Poor Coordination

This goes alongside memory and concentration. Poor coordination is a classic consequence of not getting enough sleep. 

This can have huge consequences. 

Minor poor coordination is no big deal. It isn't ideal but it's manageable. You might find yourself feeling clumsier than normal and you may not excel at your normal workouts or sports. 

On the more extreme side of things, if you're someone who operates heavy machinery (such as a car) you can find yourself unable to operate it as well. You may be more likely to get into an accident (this is also a concentration issue). 

You can also end up in non-machinery-related accidents from trip and fall events or even cutting up vegetables for dinner. 

Blood Pressure and Related Problems

Did you know that sleep can affect your blood pressure? 

Your body works hard to manage your blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood vessels while you sleep. When you're not sleeping it can't dedicate as much energy to this process.

You can end up with blood pressure that's too high or too low, or elevated blood sugar that (when combined with weight gain) could put you at risk for diabetes. 
You're more likely to run into cardiovascular issues (such as heart disease or a heart attack) when you are sleep-deprived consistently. 

How Can I Improve My Sleep?

So now we know what's at stake. How do we fix it? Sure, these consequences are scary but is there any solution that you can take at home? 
We have a few ideas. Not everything is going to work for every person, so take your own circumstances into consideration when you're going through the list.

Yoga

Yoga is great for improving your sleep. It calms down the physical body and helps you center your mind before bed. It also stretches out all of those tense muscles that you've held clenched all day. 

While some forms of yoga are more active and advanced, simple stretches before bedtime will soothe you right to sleep and have you wake up feeling relaxed.
Sleep Aids

Some people want sleep aids to help them fall asleep. When you've been having a hard time sleeping for a while, it can be helpful to use an outside source to get your schedule back on track.

Unless you've been given a prescription by a doctor, it's best to use more natural kinds of sleep aids so that you stay in good health and don't take anything that's addictive. Some people begin relying on heavy-duty over-the-counter medications, but you don't want to be reliant on them. 

There are even gummies for sleeping now, so there's no excuse for not trying a sleep aid product. 

Turning Off Electronics

Did you know that using electronics before bedtime could be killing your sleep patterns? It's time to put the phone down before bed! Your eyes and brain will thank you. 

Our electronics use blue light which may be more effective at keeping us awake than other forms of light. Light in general is going to keep us awake as it interferes with our natural circadian rhythm. 

Our bodies understand that light=daytime. Too much light can set you off track. 

Good Sleep Hygiene 

How often do you find yourself doing things from the bed that you shouldn't be doing? 

Those of us who work from home (or do homework at home) know this struggle well. You're tired. Your computer needs to charge. Why not sit in bed to do your work? 

This is bad sleep hygiene. It's healthier to have specific spaces for sleep and work. Those of us who live in small apartments may benefit from sectioning off spaces to make this possible.

You'll sleep better when you're not spending all day in bed.

For Parents: Take Turns

New parents know sleep deprivation well. When you have a crying newborn, how can you get your 8 hours? 

It's possible that you can't (at first), but you can try. Make sure that one parent isn't doing the heavy lifting with the new baby. While it's tempting to take turns throughout the night, try taking turns for longer stretches. One parent takes a week and then the other takes a week. 
 
Even splitting up days (one on, one off) can help both parents get better sleep.

Tire Yourself Out

Why would your body want to sleep if it isn't tired? Even when we're sleep deprived, we may be so used to it that we don't feel like we are. 
 
If you don't already, exercising regularly can help with your sleep. The endorphins from exercise can make you feel good and relaxed for the rest of the day after a session of heavy cardio or strength training. 

You'll also be doing your body a big favor through the increased exercise! 

Managing Health With Sleep: You Can Do It!

If you're feeling under the weather, distracted, or overall "not good," the first culprit is sleep. Getting enough good sleep during the day is the key to living a healthy lifestyle. Are you doing a good enough job? Managing health with sleep is crucial. 

Whether you're into yoga, sleep gummies, or heavy exercise, there are plenty of ways to let your brain get quiet enough to rest. What's your choice? 
For more posts on health, fitness, and lifestyle content, visit the rest of our site!
 
 
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