What Happens When you Don’t Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Most of us will know what having a bad night’s sleep feels like in the morning. From feeling a little more grumpy than usual to heavy eyelids, this disruption is bound to impact the following day. But how exactly does sleep impact our overall wellbeing and what can we do to improve it? RESCUE Remedy® has the answers to all of our questions below!
Effects of bad sleep
Sleep is an essential function that allows our mind and body to repair and recharge. Without sleep, we simply couldn’t function as human beings. In fact, a study found that moderate sleep deprivation produced impairments in cognitive and motor performance that is equivalent to the effect of alcohol!
What else can a lack of sleep do?
1. Lead to a lack of alertness: Like we mentioned before, lacking sleep can impair your motor performance, increasing the time it takes for your body to respond to stimuli. This can make it difficult to focus on work, driving and even conversations.
2. Impair your memory: Sleeping is essential for the mind to recharge and a lack of it can affect your ability to process information and remember things.
3. Increase your stress levels: Stress and sleeplessness are a vicious cycle. A lack of sleep can not only cause your body physical stress from exhaustion, but it can also cause you mental stress due to the toll it takes on your cognitive abilities. Stress releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, due to our body’s fight-or-flight response, which can lead to restlessness and repetitive thoughts, making it difficult for you to fall asleep. So, stress causes sleeplessness and sleeplessness causes stress.
4. Bad mood: Have you ever been asked if you woke up on the wrong side of the bed? A lack of sleep can have a negative impact on your mood, which could then affect how you interact with others, thus carrying the potential to affect your relationships too.
5. Physical health: Since lacking sleep can make you feel sluggish and decrease your alertness, it can also lead to you becoming less active, therefore affecting your overall physical health. A study also showed that a lack of sleep is linked to weight gain, which is believed to be linked to numerous factors, including lack of motivation to exercise and disrupted hormones affecting appetite regulation.
How can we improve our sleep?
There are plenty of ways that we can work towards improving our sleep habits and quality long term, and here are some of our top picks:
1. Healthy food vs. late-night snacks
Though we all know what it feels like to crave that late night sweet treat, eating late can affect your body’s internal clock and circadian rhythm, affecting our quality of sleep. Making an effort to eat healthy, balanced meals throughout the day, full of fibre-rich carbs, protein and healthy fats, can help regulate this rhythm and reduce the late-night cravings. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having a little something sweet after dinner, but try not to eat too late!
2. White noise
Many of us who struggle to get to sleep will also struggle with repetitive thoughts. Hearing your own thoughts go wild while you try to wind down is never fun and it can be really difficult to switch them off. Listening to white noise can help replace those thoughts with sound, allowing your thoughts to drift away. Audiobooks and music can help too, but try not to listen to something that is going to require your attention!
3. Natural light
Sedentary lifestyles can make it difficult to get outside and enjoy some fresh air, but natural light cues can help regulate your body’s circadian rhythm and improve your quality of sleep. If working at a desk, try placing it near a window. When settling down for the night, make sure you switch off your electronics at least an hour before bed, as the blue light from screens can negatively impact your sleep. Dimming the lights in the evening and closing the curtains are also great ways to tell your body it’s time for bed.
4. Sleep routine
Developing good sleep hygiene is one of the most important things you can do to help improve your quality of sleep long-term. Here are some ideas to incorporate into your bedtime routine:
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day
- Sleep in a cool room
- Turn off electronics at least an hour before bed
- Make your bed for sleep only!
- Read or journal instead of watching TV
- Practice breathing exercises
- Have a skincare routine
- Take a bath