Can’t sleep at night? Tossing and turning all night long? Feel like you can’t remember the last time you woke up from a night feeling refreshed and ready to start your day?
Sleep deprivation is a big problem in today’s world. We’re all working longer hours and slowly decreasing our sleep time as the years go by. Couple this with the high stress lifestyles we lead and that too may keep us up at night, laying there for hours going over our thoughts.
If you’re not getting the quality shut-eye you need, make no mistake about it, it’s impacting every single element of your health and well-being. Learning how to sleep better is by far, the most critical step you must take to see improved health and well-being.
To get a primer on how sleep will benefit you, check out this video where we cover the in’s and out’s of the importance of sleep along with some tips and tricks for helping you get a better night’s sleep.
Now that you have a basic understanding of what you can do to sleep better, let’s talk about sleep and your health. Do you really know the connection between sleep and your well-being?
As you might be surprised to know, the benefits of sleeping go far beyond simply feeling energized throughout the day.
Here are the primary benefits of sleeping enough at night – and how not sleeping enough can harm you.
Sleep And Obesity
If you’re currently on a fat loss diet plan, chances are, you’re doing all that you can to see optimal results. You’re tracking your calories, you’re getting to the gym each and every day, and you’re making sure that you are taking the supplements recommended for you.
But, are you sleeping enough?
While it might come as a big surprise to many people, sleep, or lack of it, could play a significant role in the weight loss results you see. How is this so?
The reason sleep impacts fat loss is because sleep influences two hormones in the body called leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is a hormone that monitors total body fat stores along with calorie expenditure. When fat loss or total calorie intake gets lower, Leptin levels will start to decline and this can cause the metabolic rate to slow down. This then contributes to the weight loss plateau that many people experience while going about their plan.
The other thing that can cause leptin to shift however is lack of sleep. If you aren’t sleeping as much as you should be at night, this could potentially contribute to a slower than normal metabolic rate, making fat loss feel that much harder.
Along with leptin, another hormone that’s going to play a role here is Ghrelin. This is the hormone that helps to control appetite levels. When ghrelin levels go up, as they often do when you haven’t eaten in awhile, so does your appetite with it. You become ravenous and want to eat everything in sight.
Then when you do eat, your levels decrease again and you become satiated. Basically, ghrelin is the satiety hormone.
When you aren’t sleeping enough however, you’ll come to find that your ghrelin levels are higher than normal at all times, no matter what you eat. So, you might find yourself snacking when you otherwise wouldn’t be.
Ever noticed that after a night of not much sleep you want to nibble all day long? That’s ghrelin at work. The unfortunate part of this is that when you have high ghrelin and low leptin, you’re basically priming your body for fat gain.
Sleep And Diabetes
In addition to potentially inducing weight gain, lack of sleep can also cause diabetes. Not only does the weight gain it can contribute to lead to a higher risk factor for diabetes, but lack of sleep can also lead to insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is one of the hallmark traits of diabetes, so it doesn’t take much to make you see the connection here.
Sleep And Heart Disease
Another way that sleep can influence your health is in terms of heart disease. Again, being overweight can lead to a higher risk of heart disease, so once again you get that sleep and obesity connection playing a role here.
But in addition to that, the lack of sleep specifically can also be linked to heart disease. Studies suggest that those who aren’t sleeping enough are at a higher risk for this disease, with studies citing that adults who slept fewer than six hours per night were about twice as likely to have a heart attack compared to those who slept six to eight hours each night.
If you have a family history of heart disease or heart conditions, this makes it super important that you are focusing on getting the quality shut-eye that you need.
Decreased Immune System
One thing that you will likely notice if you’re falling short on sleep time and time again is a weaker immune system. Sleep influences how strong your body is and how well you are able to fight back against illness and disease, so it’s something that you must be taking seriously.
If you are someone who commonly falls ill to colds and flu’s, this could be thanks to the suppression of your immune system.
Focus on sleeping more each night and you should be able to remedy the problem.
Maintaining a healthy sex life is important for enjoying life to the fullest and lack of sleep can be extremely detrimental to your libido. Don’t be surprised if you don’t feel much in the mood for anything if you’re sleep deprived, which can place great strain on any relationship you happen to be in.
As having an active sex life is also a great way to combat stress (which is also associated with many health issues), you don’t want to miss out on these important benefits.
Poor Brain Power
Staying mentally sharp as you age is a goal for many and if you are involved in a mentally demanding career, it might be a necessity.
But, lack of sleep can have serious consequences here as well. Those who aren’t sleeping enough at night are more likely to become drowsy on the job, suffer from poor memory, and have a harder time consolidating the information they learn.
And, their reaction times may suffer as well. You won’t be as quick to think on your feet, so next time you’re in a meeting and someone calls upon you, it may just mean the difference between you answering with the answer you want to give or sitting there stammering while you try and think of what to say.
If you also happen to notice that you are forgetting basic things lately (you just can’t remember for the life of you where you put your keys), this too could have to do with not getting enough sleep.
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It probably doesn’t take much explaining for you to understand the sleep-depression link. One night of poor sleep is enough to put anyone in a bad mood, but if you suffer from lack of sleep on an every day basis, don’t be surprised if you just can’t get motivated for anything in life.
Depression can strike everyone but if you aren’t getting enough sleep, all the frustrating occurrences that may happen on a day to day basis can feel that much more challenging to face, setting you up to experience depression-like effects.
Sleep And Blood Pressure
Lack of sleep can also have a big influence on your blood pressure as well. If you aren’t sleeping enough at night, you aren’t giving your body the time it needs to repair your blood vessels and this can then play a larger role in chronic health problems such as heart disease and stroke.
If your blood vessels are not at their healthiest state, you aren’t able to transport blood as readily throughout the body, so this can in turn lead to increased blood pressure levels.
If you are someone who regularly monitors your blood pressure, take careful note at the association between your readings and the amount of sleep you get. You’ll likely find that your numbers shoot up higher when you’re sleep deprived than after a good night’s rest.
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Sleep And Mood
Don’t discount the impact of sleep and your mood – and therefore, your social relationships. You’re prone to being more moody, short-tempered and all around more depressing to others when you’re not sleeping enough.
While this may not have a direct impact on you, it certainly will impact those around you. If you start to lose relationships because of your moodiness, this will then play a key role in your overall life happiness and satisfaction.
One factor that most people completely overlook when thinking about how sleep impacts them is the fact it can make you that much more accident prone. You are more likely to trip or suffer a ‘freak’ sort of accident that comes on simply due to carelessness or not paying attention while in a sleep deprived state.
Often it’s these accidents that can really cause serious injury and prove to be incredibly frustrating as well.
On top of this, you are that much more likely to get into a car accident when in a sleep deprived state as well. In fact, studies have cited that the proportion of car crashes attributable to drive sleepiness may vary from about 3-30%, indicating just how serious of an issue this really is.
Sleep in a very sleep deprived state may be just about as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol.
So now that you know the benefits of sleeping and how it can impact your health, let’s take a closer look at the steps that you can take to improve your sleep quality.
Improving Your Sleep Quality
Want to learn how to get more sleep? If you are interested in figuring out how to sleep better, the great news is that there are a number of things that you can do that will help you go from so-so sleep to great sleep that leaves you waking up revitalized.
Let’s look at a couple of the sleep optimization tips and tricks that you need to know.
The number one thing that you should be considering if getting a better night’s sleep is a top priority for you is getting yourself a sleep mask.
A sleep mask is perfect for helping to block out incoming light that may peek through your windows, stopping the production of melatonin in the body.
Melatonin is the natural hormone that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle and it will be shut off when daylight creeps in.
This might be why if you wake up partway through the night to go to the bathroom and see some morning sunlight coming in through your window, you are unable to fall back asleep. Once you brain has been exposed to the sunlight, melatonin production slows and it can really make it a struggle to fall back asleep.
A sleep mask will help prevent this.
White Noise Machine
Another thing you may want to consider is a white noise machine. Now, you don’t necessarily have to purchase a machine to get these benefits. A simple fan will do the trick nicely.
The goal here is to block out any incoming irregular sounds, which can make it very challenging to fall asleep. These sounds will often disturb you, causing you to wake up and making it harder to get back to the sleep.
While not something you will purchase per say, turning down the temperature in your room is another important way to help promote restful sleep.
It’s a good idea to pre-program your thermostat in your house so that it starts going down a few hours before you plan to go to sleep so that this primes your body – and your room – for you to fall asleep.
Note that you do want to avoid using an air conditioner whenever possible as these can have other negative health consequences.
Another thing that you may have come across that’s sometimes marketed to help people sleep is melatonin supplements. Now with these, they can help make you feel more drowsy and promote sleepiness most of the time.
This said, one thing that you do need to realize with these is that very often, you’ll awaken after just a few hours and struggle to fall back asleep. While each person will be unique in how they respond, this is quite common so must be taken into account.
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If you are only planning on sleeping 4-5 hours and need something to help you fall asleep fast, melatonin may do the trick. But if you want to sleep longer, it may not be the best solution for you.
In addition to that, it’s not a good supplement to use on a chronic basis as you may come to depend on it for falling asleep.
Some people may also suffer from melatonin hangover after using it, which is a general feeling of being groggy and/or tired the next day. Again, see how you react.
For some people it works wonderfully while for others, it doesn’t work out so well. If you are struggling with feeling groggy, you might also consider a smaller dose as in some cases, that can help you side-step these feelings.
Most people will do best taking a dosage between 1 and 3 mg per day. Start with the lower dosage and build up from there.
Chamomile tea is another natural sleep aid that may help you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply. Unlike melatonin, this one is perfectly safe to use and while the effects may not be quite as strong, it certainly can be very beneficial.
If you are going to use chamomile tea however, just try and drink it soon enough before bed that you aren’t waking up in the middle of the night to use the washroom.
Keep your dose limited to about a cup or so to prevent that as well.
So there you have some of the natural ways that you can help promote better quality sleep. Sleep optimization is so important because it really will play such a valuable role on your health and well-being. Too many people are in the habit of overlooking this, only to in the end suffer from serious health conditions because of it.
Once you get your sleep lined up properly, you’ll wonder how you ever went without it.
Do you have any sleep optimization tricks or tips you’d like to share? What have you done that’s made a big difference in terms of helping to get more sleep at night? Share your comments below – we’d love to hear them.
Want to learn more about optimizing your health and well-being? Check out my free 84 day course where I will cover everything you need to know about how to improve your health, prevent disease, and achieve maximum living.
Ayas, Najib T., et al. “A prospective study of sleep duration and coronary heart disease in women.” Archives of internal medicine 163.2 (2003): 205-209.
Connor, Jennie, et al. “Driver sleepiness and risk of serious injury to car occupants: population based case control study.” Bmj 324.7346 (2002): 1125.