Whatever happened to a good night’s sleep? It’s been weeks since you’ve had your last proper shuteye, and by now you’ve forgotten all about how it feels to wake up energized. Your performance at work and in social life is suffering too, along with your body and your mental health. It’s sack time.
A poor sleep cycle is a consequence of so many different things, physical and emotional alike. Perhaps there’s a health condition that affects your daily routine and night-time patterns in a negative way. More likely, your inability to fall asleep is caused by everyday stress, fatigue, and excessive exhaustion.
Whatever the case, it’s time to nip that problem in the bud.
Otherwise, your poor sleep cycle might trigger some of the following issues:
- Weight Gain
Can sleep deprivation really cause weight gain, or is this nothing more than an urban myth? Experts are leaning towards the first explanation. “Sleep is important for pretty much every one of your physical systems”, according to a clinical psychologist and founder of NYC Sleep Doctor, Janet. K. Kennedy. “Sleep is involved in the repair and restoration of the body”, Ph.D. Kennedy said to Daily Burn.
If so, then sleep also allows our digestive system to do its thing and digest everything we feed it with during the day, be that a nutrient or toxin. Without some time to recover, the body cannot process sugar, which then remains in our blood. Also, poor sleep leads to poor lifestyle and causes cortisol, the stress hormone, to spike. Hence your need for comfort food, and your struggle with extra pounds.
- Lack Of Concentration
A study published in Nature found that “the neurons in key brain cells in your temporal lobe fire more slowly and weakly when you’re tired”. The fact that our concentration struggles under sleep deprivation is nothing new – each and every one of us has experienced a decline in cognition, memory, and general efficiency after an all-nighter at least once. Without sleep, our brain neurons slow down, causing cognitive lapse.
This happens whenever you struggle to complete a simple task. Your mind feels either hyped or completely empty, so you’re failing to focus on what’s ahead of you either way. Since scientists now claim that poor sleep can actually cause long-term brain damage, it’s for the best not to blame your sub-par performance on your loud neighbors, but to immediately take some time off and go to sleep.
- Lack Of Physical Energy
Poor sleep cycle leads to daytime drowsiness, which can, in severe cases, trigger depression. If you’re always tired and your mood tracker shows nothing but fatigue, then sleep deprivation may just be the main culprit for that. And, by sleep deprivation, we don’t mean only conditions such as insomnia. It’s enough to sleep less (or more) than 8 hours per night to experience the same symptoms as insomniacs.
Never neglect these unusual drops in energy, no matter how mild or unobtrusive they are. Because you cannot do the same thing over and over again and expect different results, these symptoms will only get uglier over time. If you’re too tired to go to the gym on Friday, there’s a great chance that you’ll be feeling much worse on Monday. Fatigue makes you care less for your health, so sleep it off.
- Greater Risk Of Heart Disease
In one short sentence, the National Sleep Foundation issues a maxim of conventional wisdom that we often forget to remember: “Sleep is essential for a healthy heart”. This must never be overlooked, neither as a metaphor nor as a scientific fact. Sleep truly enables all our vital functions, among which the heart may just be the most important one. Otherwise, we’re at huge risk of becoming seriously ill.
All this is to say that people who sleep less are more likely to develop a cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease, both of which are associated with inflammation, high blood pressure, and glucose metabolism. All these conditions are caused by poor lifestyle, and not getting enough sleep falls under this category as well. To keep your heart in the right place and condition, go to slumberland.
We’ve already hinted that poor sleep can cause depression, and the link between them needs no further explanation. Even though clinically depressed people tend to stay tied to the bed, sleeping their way through emotional pain and turmoil, depression can still come in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes, it reinforces overthinking and actually keeps us awake. Either way, it’s nasty and crippling.
Since poor sleep cycle refers to both sleep deprivation and excessive sleeping, your first course of action would be to address the root problem. Get rid of all digital distractions, and start aligning your daily rhythm to the natural cycle – go to sleep when the night falls, and wake up with an early sunshine. If this doesn’t help you, do consult a professional. Sleep conditions and depression are both treatable.
- Lack Of Immunity
Lack of immunity and lack of sleep almost always go hand in hand. They affect each other whichever comes first, thus initiating a vicious cycle of chronic insomnia or sleepiness and weakened health. Never forget that bedtime serves to recover and rejuvenate your entire body, allowing it to heal on a deeper, molecular level. It’s no wonder then that poor sleep cycle makes everything sore and painful.
And frequent headaches are usually just a small part of that. When tired, the immune system impairs the performance of all other systems, thus affecting the brain, heart, kidneys, liver, and lungs. The nervous, cardiovascular, endocrine, respiratory and digestive systems all get fatigued too, which typically results in an inability to fight off germs and viruses alike. The less you sleep, the sicker you’ll get.
Don’t get surprised if one of these symptoms starts bothering you too. If you are a poor sleeper, then it’s only a matter of time. Whether you’re suffering from insomnia or sleepiness, whether staying awake is your own choice or not, turn this pattern around and treat your body with much-needed z’s.