Thinking Out Loud

5 Consequences For Not Getting Enough Zzzzz's

By Alex Chavez

Between work, family, getting sick and particularly during the holiday season it can be tricky to be certain we're on point with our circadian rhythm. Especially these days, we have about a million and one distractions that can ensure we don't get enough sleep. This isn't exactly NEW news. We all know sleep is important for our health, yet some of us still don't get enough and are significantly deprived. Here are five reminders on why you should put on some Enya, count sheep and get your sleep on.

1) You can gain weight: Decreasing the number of hours we sleep per night has been seen to increase the hormone level of ghrelin in the body. This is the same hormone that triggers our hunger response. Not only that, several studies found that a lack of sleep and increase in ghrelin in turn increases our desire for high-carb, calorically dense and sugary foods (1).

2) You Remember Less: Reaching the REM cycle during sleep allows the formation and connection of cells. It also aids in memory formation. Takes me back to college (who am I kidding, high school too) when I used to pull all nighters studying and cramming for a test. Whoooops.

3) Your Resting Blood Pressure Increases: In a 2009 study, researchers found that within a 24-hr period, a decrease in sleep among young adults led to a significant increase in their resting blood pressure. Those that already had hypertension saw even more of blood pressure spike (2).

4) You're More Clumsy: Not getting enough Zzzz's can result in you loosing focus, feeling confused and inevitably making you less alert. You definitely don't want that when you're driving to and from work...not to mention at work!

5) You're More Emotional: One would think that when you're sleepy, your brain becomes sleepy and less active. I know I just assumed that's how it worked. In a study performed by Current Biology in 2007 and republished by USA Today (3), researchers found that when you are under rested, your brain's emotional bits actually become "60% more reactive". This in turn is linked to an increase in depression and other emotional challenges among those that are sleep deprived.

You guys get the moral of the story. Do your best to eliminate the variables that are hindering your ability to get a good night sleep. I find this whole "looking at your phone before bed leads to less sleep" fascinating...so guess what next week's post will be about. I'll give you two guesses but you'll only need one.

References:

1) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/18/scary-sleep-deprivation-effects_n_2807026.html?slideshow=true#gallery/255140/0

2) Fujikawa T., Tochikubo O., Kura N., & Umemura S. (2009). Factors related to elevated 24-h blood pressure in young adults. Clinical and Experimental Hypertension, 31(8), 705-712

3) http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2007-10-22-sleep-deprivation-brain_N.htm

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