When we're busy meeting tight deadlines, we tend to disconnect from our body. A good night's sleep is the ultimate - and cheapest - health boost you can get. You might think your four-hours-a night is nothing to worry about, but chronic sleep deprivation can affect your cognitive performance at work. Poor sleep has been linked in some studies to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, depression and can even affect your performance in endurance sports.
Here are a few alarm bells to help you spot the signs of poor sleep:
- Hungry? Hungry? If your brain is deprived of the energy is requires from sleep, it’ll often try to get it from elsewhere – namely food! Not getting adequate rest increases the production of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. And too much of this makes us crave sugary and fatty foods. On top of this, poor sleep can affect something else called leptin – the satiety hormone. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you more inclined to buckle to your cravings because you’re not feeling the signals to stop eating.
- Poor Productivity? Tiredness could be the culprit. When you’re tired, you’re not going to be on your A game. Sleep deprivation can affect speed and higher-level cognitive processing. This means essential functions, like problem-solving, decision-making or time management, become even more difficult to carry out.
- Emotional? If you find yourself overreacting to things that wouldn’t have affected you previously. Or perhaps you feel yourself swinging from being wildly happy to particularly weepy, this can be triggered by poor sleep. Your reactions to emotional stimuli can send your feelings into overdrive when you haven’t had enough shuteye.
- Forgetful? Getting enough sleep is essential for brain health in the long term. Sleep leads to memory consolidation and emotional processing. So a lack of rest may be messing with your memory. When you’re tired, it’s harder to form memories.
- No sex drive? A study from the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that sleep-deprived women were 14 percent less likely to have sex than those who had gotten proper sleep. It’s not just you though. Your partner can feel the effects too. Another study from the University Chicago showed that men with poor sleep patterns have significantly lower levels of testosterone – the body’s natural mojo - which reduces their interest in being intimate with their partner.
- Accident prone? It's not just your emotions that are harder to control when you're sleep deprived. It's your body, too. If you find you having one of those days where you trip up, drop your morning coffee and bump into things all in the space of 24 hours, it can be a sign you’re overtired. When you’re less rested, there’s a lapse in how you neurologically function in general. If you’re busy rushing about, there’s a lot processing going on. And when we’re sleep deprived our brains can’t process as well.