Sleep Deprived

Think you’re surviving just fine on a few hours of sleep? Here are seven signs you need more shut-eye.

Ever feel like there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done? Maybe you’re a student cramming for exams and writing papers. Perhaps you’re a parent trying to juggle work, chores, and kids. Or maybe you’re just a night owl and enjoy staying up late to read, watch television, or go out with friends. Whatever your reason for not getting enough sleep, you may not realize the effect it’s having on your body. Over time, a lack of sleep may catch up with you.

Believe it or not, sleep is essential for health and wellness. It’s during sleep that your body rejuvenates itself for the next day, muscles grow, tissue is repaired, hormones are balanced, memories are organized, and the immune system is strengthened. When you deprive your body of sleep, these things don’t happen and you’ll suffer the consequences.

Here are seven signs you may be sleep deprived.

Sign 1: Depression

A chronic lack of sleep can make you feel depressed. In fact, anyone who deals with insomnia is five times as likely to be depressed. What makes matters worse is that when you’re depressed you have trouble falling asleep. Get treatment for your sleep problems and your depression should improve.

Sign 2: Weight Gain

Not getting enough sleep is closely related to weight gain. One study showed those who get less than six hours of sleep a night have a 30-percent greater chance of being obese than those who get the recommended seven to nine hours. When your body’s tired it craves energy. Where does it look for energy? Food. A lack of sleep makes you hungrier, your appetite is bigger, and you crave unhealthy foods.

A second way sleep affects weight is the relationship sleep has with the hormones that control appetite. Skimping on sleep increases production of ghrelin, the hormone that signals hunger, and decreases production of leptin, the hormone that tells you when you’re full.

Sign 3: Loss of Inhibition

It’s a common thing for people to say and do things without thinking when they’re tired. Saying mean comments, making impulsive decisions, eating too much junk food, or having one drink too many are all things that happen when you’re overly tired.

Sign 4: Forgetful

Can’t remember someone’s name, where you put your keys, or what you did last night? You may be sleep deprived. It’s during sleep that memories are consolidated, the brain is refreshed, and the nervous system is kept healthy. This is one reason why grades suffer for kids who don’t get the recommended number of hours of sleep each night. Get more sleep and see if your memory improves.

Sign 5: Clumsy

Tripping as you walk, running into objects, or dropping things could be blamed on clumsiness, but they’re also signs of fatigue. Sleep deprivation lowers your reaction time and hinders your concentration. Things that should be simple tasks become difficult and time-consuming.

Sign 6: Sick Again

Sleep improves the ability of your immune system to fight off viral infections. While you’re asleep your body produces cytokines, immune proteins that work to protect you from inflammation and infection. Don’t get enough shut-eye and your defenses will be down, making you more likely to get sick with viruses like the common cold.

Sign 7: Skin Problems

Aging skin, acne, fine lines, dark circles, sagging skin, and puffy eyes are all risks you run when you skimp on sleep. A good night’s rest gives your skin cells time to repair damage, produce collagen for smooth skin, and balance the hormones responsible for good-looking skin.