Lack of sleep has some long-term effects to our brain function and overall wellbeing.
As a writer, I’ve had my share of late nights before early mornings. I think we’ve all done it at some point.
We tell ourselves, “Just one more episode/chapter.” or, “I’ll stay for a little.” We mean well. Then 5 hours later our eyes sting with the strain of keeping them open. The next day at work is no better. The morning is spent forcing our eyes to stay open while we wonder if a cup of coffee is a good idea.
Too many of us have made a routine of it, so it gets to a point where you have to ask: What are the long-term effects of the lack of sleep? Well, just like if you try to restrict your intake whilst on a diet, your body goes into survival mode. This is never a good place to be in.
So what does a long-lasting lack of sleep do to your body?
Your body starts to work on recharging your brain while you’re awake; it diverts energy from other areas. When your brain runs like this, it’s harder to concentrate and retain information. You drift into ‘microsleeps’ as your brain is desperate for even a few seconds rest. Any work you do is prone to errors and mistakes, and even accidents due to slower reaction times.
In the hope of getting energy from anywhere, with the excessive lack of sleep, your brain causes changes to hormone levels. This can make your mood flip on a dime, affecting your stress levels during the day. Not only that, but hormone changes affect you in physical ways too. Your body will crave carbohydrates, sugar, and oily food as it tries to gather the energy from somewhere. Since your metabolism is in survival mood, this is stored and hoarded by the body in fat. Anything that isn’t adding to your weight will leave the system through your hair and pores.
So oily skin, spots, greasy hair and weight gain – It’s not exactly healthy, especially when you consider that while the brain is basically running around like a headless chicken, your immune system has no idea what to do. Your body’s ability to fight off illness is compromised, and this can affect the kidneys and liver’s ability to process toxins as well.
Sometimes going to bed early just doesn’t cut it, so I started to charge my phone in another room, It was scary at first, not having my phone a foot away – but it was needed. Make your bedroom a bedroom again.
How to sleep more!
If you’re feeling run down, use the weekend to catch up. An extra 20 minutes or so during the week won’t help. It just isn’t enough time to achieve REM sleep. On nights over the weekend, make sure to sleep for a good 10 hours. Turn all alarm clocks off.
Lastly, cut out caffeine. Even tea or cola can affect your natural energy levels during the day and have a knock-on effect on your sleep during the night. Give yourself time to slow down on a night. Ease yourself into a more peaceful mindset as much as you can, and your sleep will be better because of it.
Have you ever experienced a lack of sleep for a long period of time? Share with us your experience in the comments below.
By Amy W.
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