Written by Allison Hudges.
Getting a good night’s sleep provides a slew of benefits to the body, making it one of the most important physiological processes for growth, development and overall well-being.
Sleep deprivation can negatively impact you in many ways. It can prevent you from functioning properly, affecting your productivity. More than losing focus and attention, lack of sleep can also lead to serious medical conditions, cause weight gain and make you look older.
Unfortunately, sleep problems affect millions of individuals across the globe, and for various reasons. Here are the most common causes of insufficient sleep and how they affect the body:
- Stress – The fight-or-flight response refers to the physiological changes that undergo in the body when faced with stress. In normal conditions, the hormone cortisol, which causes a heightened state of alertness, drops down once the stressful event has dissipated. However, some individuals remain in this state longer than the ideal period, interfering with the ability to doze off.
- Magnesium deficiency – This wonder mineral is involved in numerous bodily processes that involve muscle and mood regulation. As a result, a person who lacks magnesium may display signs of muscle tension, cramps, and irritability. Magnesium deficiency also causes a decline in serotonin- a hormone responsible for regulating sleep, pain, mood, and attention.
- Late-night eating – If you’re used to eating a lot, particularly three hours before bedtime, stop it right now. Late-night noshing causes your blood sugar and melatonin (another sleep hormone) to crash and your cortisol levels to rise, preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep.
- Too much light – Too much ambient light can confuse your body into thinking that it’s daytime, interfering with your body’s natural sleep cycle. Electronic devices and gadgets emit blue light that produces the same effect.
- Serious health conditions – Chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and musculoskeletal disorders trigger physiological stresses that prevent a person from sleeping soundly.
- Depression and anxiety – The link between lack of sleep and depression goes both ways. While disturbed sleep might lead to changes in the brain and depression, depression may also lead to erratic sleeping patterns.
- Certain types of medicines – Specific chemical formulations in certain drugs may lead to sleeplessness. Alpha and beta- blockers, corticosteroids, anti-depressants, and statins are known to trigger insomnia.
- Hormonal changes – Fluctuating levels of hormones, such as those prompted by thyroid problems, pregnancy, and menopause, can cause sleeplessness. The hot flashes that menopausal women experience in the middle of the night notoriously set off sleep disruptions.
- Chronic pain – Also going both ways, pain typically results in sleep deprivation, and sleep problems exacerbates pain.
- Aging – Sleep patterns change with age, and it’s likely due to the changes in the brainwaves.
- Insomnia – This sleep disorder causes difficulties in falling or staying asleep. This study blames genetics and the patient’s environment as the main reasons a person develops this condition.
- Narcolepsy – This condition typically causes people to suddenly fall asleep any time of the day, making restful sleep impossible.
- Restless leg syndrome – This causes sleep disruptions because of an urge to move the legs even while inactive, most especially when he or she is in deep slumber.
- Sleep apnea – This condition causes sleeplessness because the blockage in the upper airway worsens when one is asleep. An individual with sleep apnea often wakes up gasping for air in the middle of a slumber.
- Messed up body clock. Also known as the circadian rhythm, this internal body clock regulates the sleep-wake cycle and allows you to perform essential functions and processes on a daily basis. Crossing to a different time zone or working on night shifts are the main reasons your internal clock gets disrupted.
How Lack of Sleep Affects Our Body
Insufficient sleep can wreak havoc in the body, internally and externally. People who suffer from long-term sleep deprivation are at risk for developing heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, and stomach issues, among a host of other serious medical conditions.
These conditions occur mainly because the body’s regular functions, namely, blood pressure, stress level, brain activity and restoration, and metabolism, among many others, get all messed up as you lose much- needed sleep.
Moreover, sleep deprivation can impact an individual’s overall appearance for the following reasons:
- Women who lack high-quality shuteye lose the skin’s ability to repair itself. Skin regeneration typically happens at night, and losing on this opportunity could lead to premature skin aging.
- Speaking of premature skin aging, individuals who skip on much-needed slumber show more obvious signs of skin problems such as fine lines, uneven skin tone, and reduced elasticity. These may all be attributed to impaired collagen production capacity.
- Besides collagen production, sleep disruptions can also lead to lower supply of antioxidants. These compounds fight the free radicals in the body, that, when left unregulated, may cause serious problems like diabetes and cancer. Antioxidants also protect the skin from the damaging rays of the sun and other environmental pollutants, maintaining your skin’s youthful appearance.
- Dark circles under the eyes are most unappealing. They make you look tired and, even, sick. Inadequate sleep messes up the lymphatic system, preventing your body from draining away excess toxins and fluids. The result is the appearance of the dark circles.
- Cortisol, a hormone that’s responsible for numerous bodily functions, including stress and infection, increases when you can’t fall asleep. This leads to an inflammation that damages skin proteins responsible for keeping your skin radiant.
Having seen what keeps you from getting a good night’s sleep, the challenge is yours to address these. Sometimes, it’s as simple as improving your diet and daily habits to counter the effects of sleeplessness on your skin. Check out these 5 easy tips to improve your sleep quality and get the benefits of a restful night’s beauty sleep.
Getting good-quality sleep is as important as breathing and eating. Everyone needs it to stay in the pink of health and to look radiant and youthful!