We’ve all experienced the brain fog, sugar cravings and sandpaper eyes that comes with a bad night’s sleep, and wished that we’d turned the lights off in time to get our 8 hours. Most people feel the lack of sleep instantly, but why is it that we feel so terrible?
Sleep affects everything!
During sleep, our bodies regenerate. If we don’t get enough sleep our bodies don’t get enough time to recover. A lack of sleep is associated with impaired immunity, increased pain, impaired gut health, food cravings and lower productivity, as well as many diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. A study also showed that sleep deprivation disturbs our memory, visual perception and reactions to the world around us. No wonder we feel a little frazzled and unproductive after too little sleep!
Sleep deprivation worsens stress
It’s normal to feel stressed after a bad night’s sleep because we don’t feel like our best selves, but sleep actually affects our ability to cope with stress. In fact, people who are sleep-deprived respond to low stressors in the same way that people without sleep deprivation respond to high stressors. So if you’ve ever found yourself snapping at your family for no reason after a bad night’s sleep, now you know why!
Tiredness makes you hungry!
If you’re fighting with all you’ve got to stick to a healthy diet but failing, have a look at your sleeping habits, ghrelin may be to blame! Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates appetite, and leptin is a hormone that decreases it. When we’re sleep deprived, ghrelin levels rise and leptin levels decrease, which means you’ll feel hungrier and be more prone to overeating.
How can we get better sleep?
Now that we know that sleep affects everything from productivity to stress levels and appetite, maybe it’s actually worth the effort to turn off Netflix and go to bed early? We think so. But just turning off Netflix in time doesn’t ensure a rejuvenating slumber. So, what else can we do?
• Low lighting
Our bodies are tuned to work with the cycle of sunlight and darkness, meaning our bodies sends out signals to make us sleepy when it’s dark, and feel wide awake when the sun is shining. If we have bright lights turned on in the evening, our bodies aren’t going to send out the signals that make us tired. So, turn the lights down low and avoid scrolling on your phone.
• Go to bed at the same time every evening
When we create a bed-time routine (our bodies love routine!) it regulates our circadian rhythm and helps our bodies understand when it’s time to sleep.
• Cool bedroom
Cracking the window in the evening and letting in fresh, cool air can help us fall asleep faster and have better sleep quality. Ideally, the temperature should be between 18-24 C.
• Calming music or meditations
If your mind is racing and you just can’t turn it off, try listening to a sleep meditation or some calming music while you try to drift off, it usually does the trick!