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Turns out, we’re not that good at knowing when we’re sleep deprived. As sleep experts explain it, we quickly adapt to not getting the rest we need, in order to get through the day. Then we tell ourselves we don’t need eight hours of sleep—six will do just fine. But the body doesn’t really adapt to not getting the sleep it needs.
Here are five common signs you’re not sleeping enough, even if you feel like you are:
There’s a strong and growing body of research that connects lack of sleep (and poor quality sleep) to a tendency to gain weight and a higher risk for obesity.
Poor sleep isn’t the only factor in weight gain, of course—there are several, including your genetics, your diet and exercise habits, your stress, and your health conditions. But it is clear when sleep goes down, weight goes up.
Studies show not sleeping enough changes hormones that regulate appetite — driving up production of hunger hormones and inhibiting production of hormones that deliver messages to the brain of satiety, or fullness. Ghrelin, is the hormone that tells us to “go.” It tells us to eat. When we are sleep-deprived, research suggests that our bodies produce more ghrelin. When we don’t sleep enough, we’re also more likely to crave junk food and indulge in late-night snacking. And when we’re short on sleep, we’re less likely to exercise and move around as much as when we’re well rested.
Get moving! Read Get Fit, Stop Snoring.
Think your fuzzy-headedness is a sign of age? Think again. It might have to do with how much sleep you got last night and the night before.
Sleep is a rebooting time for the brain when we process newly-acquired information into memory and wipe the slate clean for another day of learning and memory making. Spending enough time in all the stages of sleep, including slow-wave sleep and REM sleep, is important for mental focus and memory.
Without enough sleep, we’re more at risk for memory loss and forgetfulness. We’re also less able to focus on tasks and retain new information. Sleep also affects your procedural memory (aka “motor memory”). This refers to your ability to learn physical skills like riding a bike, throwing a ball, mastering a game or learning an instrument. A sharp motor memory helps many who are training in an athletic capacity or learning new musical pieces. When you get the right amount of sleep, your memories associated with skill become sharper.
Learn more about sleep and brain health: Read How Sleep Helps You Fight Alzheimer’s Disease.
Craving a nap before you even make it to lunch? That’s a surefire sign of sleep deprivation.
Mundane or low-energy activities, including driving, sitting in meetings, and routine tasks at the computer might be the times when this daytime sleepiness is most prominent. Sleep experts say there’s one big exception, however. A bout of mid-afternoon sleepiness is common for everyone, and not in and of itself a signal of being sleep deprived. A quick nap can be refreshing and helpful, particularly if you are sleep deprived, but keep it to 15 to 20 minutes as longer naps and those late in the day can negatively impact your sleep quality.
Falling asleep during the day? Find out why Poor Sleep is a Safety Hazard.
Do you drop off into sleep almost instantly when your head hits the pillow? That’s less a sign of being a super-sleeper, and more a sign you’re short on sleep.
When sufficiently rested, it takes a few minutes to fall asleep once we have gotten into bed, typically around 5-10 minutes. Falling asleep within a minute or two of lying down suggests your body is so hungry for sleep, it’s switching into sleep mode at the very first instant possible. On the flip side, spending 30 minutes or more in bed before falling asleep is too long, sleep experts tell us, and may be a sign of insomnia. Try to reduce stress and anxiety, this relaxation response can help to enable you to peacefully drift off to slumber.
If you’re waking from sleep feeling fatigued right out of the gate, you’re likely not getting enough high-quality rest at night.
The best night of sleep involves a combination of sleep quantity and sleep quality. If you are short on either one, mornings can be uncomfortable. In addition to feeling tired before you have even risen from bed, there are other morning symptoms to know. Eat an energy-boosting diet with fruits and vegetables, avoiding alcohol can prove to help but be mindful of such symptoms of headaches, sore throat, and dry mouth may be signs of snoring and sleep apnea.
Intrigued? Learn more about Foods & Supplements That Help You Sleep Better.
Do any of these signs of sleep deprivation sound familiar to you? If snoring is keeping you up, do not go another night. Try ZQuiet now!