It’s pretty obvious that smoking and alcohol aren’t good for your health, but so is being sleep deprived. We all know it, but we usually turn a blind eye to it because we probably have a really good reason for staying up. Or do we?
There is a lot of dangers of sleep deprivation, which is a bit worrisome on my front because I’m the classic example of someone who is. Everything from heart disease to risk of high blood pressure are on the table here.
Worryingly as it may seem, many think that if we miss a few nights of proper rest, we can make it all up over the weekend by staying in bed all Sunday. This is where you’re absolutely wrong! It can take a while for our bodies to recover from a single hour of lost sleep. I know for a fact that it’s true because when I started working on my first book 3 years ago, I changed my sleep schedule significantly. Even today, I might not be staying up as late, but I know I’m not getting enough rest (and my body is starting to react to it).
So, if you need some more motivation to fix your sleep schedule, here’s a few things to keep in mind. Being sleep deprived means your immune system might be working overtime. When you sleep, your body produces and releases cytokines (small proteins that help in the immune process), so without your body resting, it’s difficult for it to make enough to fight off infection. So, you might want to catch a few more zzz’s as we’re approaching flu season here in North America.
Research claims that sleep-deprived people have lower levels of leptin, which helps you feel full once you’ve eaten. There is likely some truth to that because whenever I stay up, I always feel hungry. And we all know it’s bad eating a full meal at 3 a.m. in the morning. I usually use music to distract my urge to eat, but I believe I’ve gained a few pounds from snacking occasionally.
The one side effect that really draws my attention is that research shows you’re likely to suffer from depression from sleep deprivation. Everyone gets crabby after a poor night’s sleep, so after a prolonged time of sleepless nights, it can become more serious. Fortunately, I have a good grasp of my anxiety and moods, but I do sometimes have my blowout episodes when I am extremely overwhelmed at work.
So, what if you can’t sleep more because you really are doing work? The most important thing is to not skip meals when you’re sleep deprived and to avoid certain processed foods or foods in high calories, sugars, or fat to ensure that when you can sleep, you’re getting good rest. This is because these types of food have a high glycaemic index (GI) so it can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar, meaning you’ll likely crash. If you do want to enjoy these foods, do so in moderation.
Remember, a healthy life means you’re getting enough rest, and if you can’t, at least eat right.