Lack of Sleep: How to Get Back in the Rhythm

Lack of Sleep: How to Get Back in the Rhythm



Does lack of sleep make you repeatedly hit the snooze button?

Or do you long to stay under the covers five more minutes or secretly wish to skip the morning entirely?

Me too.

But we get up anyways.  Obligations right?

When we first set foot in the day, our foggy brains and jello-like legs have a hard time figuring out it’s time to move.

Eventually, the body adjusts, and we go about our day thinking we’re damage free.

However,  over time, lack of sleep has severe consequences in our lives.    

We still get things done, and therefore think that our sleep quota is under control,  but for many of us, regardless of age, it’s just the opposite.

We’re just not getting enough sleep.

Sleeping enough hours for energy optimization is crucial, but the quality of our sleep is just as important.

That’s because to accomplish the most basic task or fuel a vision for the future, our mind and body have to be in sync.

Common sense right?

So why do so many of us ignore this?

Why do we have such a hard time getting enough sleep?

Laying down a proper healthy foundation allows us to deal with life stuff brilliantly and succeed positively in our endeavors.

If we really got this, just imagine how far we’d go!


It only takes a few changes in our lifestyle to bring out our best, like healthy eating, communicating better, taking screen breaks, or having a good laugh.

And sleeping enough.




Related: Feeling stressed out, start here with small action steps for simple living.




HUMANS AND NATURE

autumn leaves nature




Nature has its own rhythm. It regulates itself like clockwork according to the seasons, the light and its elemental needs.

Humans, on the other hand, are a complex breed.  

Yet, without a doubt, we are also a part of nature and programmed to follow its light flow.

For most of us, we’re active during daylight and feel like relaxing when it’s dark.

It’s a bit simplistic, and of course, there are exceptions, but that’s what we’d do in a primary state.

However, today the percentage of adults and teens who don’t sleep enough is overwhelming.  

And we all think we can get away with it.

Several factors contribute negatively to a lack of sleep. These include the constant pressure from our stressed out society, our personal habits and where we live in the world.

But the most critical factor is that little voice within us and how well do we listen to what’s right for us – or not.

Of course, we all have obligations.

Who doesn’t have tons of stuff to do or high expectations driven by need or choice?

Yet by placing too much attention on external pressures, we forget the most essential element.

Ourselves.


LACK OF SLEEP AND ITS CONSEQUENCES

white beige fog



I hear it all the time.

People say:  I have too much to do, I’ll sleep more tomorrow, I’m fine, not tired, I have urgent work to finish, I have to study for exams, why waste time sleeping, just one more episode, only one more phone check, it goes on and on.

Maybe you’ve said this too?  

I know I have.

But the reality is that many of us who suffer from lack of sleep either don’t admit it or won’t do anything about.

We are convinced there’s no other choice.  Or we just hope to catch up eventually.

Which never really happens because that’s not how the body works.

So why is sleep such a big deal anyway?

Well, because studies have shown that lack of sleep could have serious consequences on our brain and body.

And if we really listened to our body, we wouldn’t need any proof of this.



woman sleeping in train


LACK OF SLEEP: 5 consequences

1. Lack of clarity

Not having a good sleeping rhythm can alter your creative thinking process.

By cutting back just 1 hour of sleep over a few days, your memory and concentration are affected in ways that are impossible to catch up.

Our ability to focus is replaced by slower reflexes and lower productivity whether at work or school.

And accomplishing anything basic or complex seems like a huge task.

In the end, it takes way more time to finish what you’ve started.


2.  Lack of sleep and Health problems

Not sleeping enough can cause serious health problems over time, like high blood pressure or heart problems among other issues.

Also, when we sleep, certain hormones which protect us from common infections are released, reinforcing our immune system.

But these hormones can’t do their job if we lack sleep.

For kids,  teens, young adults, and older seniors, it’s especially important as they are naturally more vulnerable.

If they lack sleep, their bodies could get sick as they need to struggle to fight common infections.

Just remember that our immune system thrives on quality sleep.



3. Mirror Mirror, who’s the fairest of them all?

Lack of sleep is written all over your face.

Maybe not the first night, or the second. But eventually, proof of poor sleeping habits does get stamped on our facial skin.

Acne, dark circles, wrinkles, swelling, the list goes on, and it’s not pretty or comfortable.

When you don’t sleep enough, deep sleep cycles are shortened, which in turn changes your image in the mirror.  

Your tissues don’t get repaired properly, your skin is dull, and the glow is gone.

Humans are resilient, so not sleeping enough on occasion is ok, but over time, it’s tough to reverse the damage.

Lack of sleep and stress could also provoke hair loss. It weakens the body’s ability to absorb the necessary nutrients, and blood flow no longer circulates properly.  

As a result, the hair follicles weaken, and clumps of hair show up in the shower or on your hairbrush.


4. Overweight

What? Weight problems due to lack of sleep?

Yes.

Studies have shown that when we don’t sleep enough, we tend to make bad decisions, including food choices.

Instead of a healthy meal, a sleep-deprived brain will gravitate toward eating junk food and empty calories to satisfy cravings leading to weight gain and unhealthy bodies.

It can also lead to diabetes.

This is a problem for all but especially for teens who naturally go for sugar and unhealthy snacks as compensation for just about anything.



5. Emotions in Check

grumpy gargoyle



Grumpy in the morning? Wish you could stay in bed?

Lack of sleep also affects our mood.  

Other signs we don’t sleep enough include irritability, being impatient, flying off the handle for small stuff or just being in a fog.

At some point, exhaustion takes over, and your legendary calmness evaporates.


“Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” Thomas Dekker



Lack of sleep also provokes reactions we may regret later as well as heated discussions.

This behavior can easily be avoided with a proper sleep rhythm that helps to keep calm.

Critical lack of sleep can also induce depression, which in itself can cause other sleeping problems like insomnia.


Just a note concerning teens: This erratic behavior is not uncommon during teen years, but without a proper sleep pattern, it only gets worse.



WHY WE DON’T SLEEP ENOUGH ?

brown drawing question marks



In our modern society, it’s possible to fill up several pages on why poor sleeping habits are the norm.

But probably the most overused reason gets tucked under a large umbrella called work.

Work for any given project, for business, schoolwork, thesis, events, ideas, objectives, etc.. Any action is a good excuse not to sleep enough.

Even checking emails and surfing social media has become work.

Whatever.

The reality is we go to bed with our phones and laptops when we shouldn’t.

For teens, it’s even become an addiction of sorts.

For many adults as well.

I get it. After a long day, it feels like a reward.

An exam in the morning, a project to finish, another article to outline, or a few extra moments on social media, 5 minutes to check email, a funny youtube video, an episode of your favorite series?

You need a reward. But next thing you know it’s been over an hour or most probably way way way way more than expected.

Screen rewards can be cool, but we all know that screen overload has a serious impact on our overall health in the long run.

Don’t we?

Our posture changes over time, but we don’t even notice.  

We communicate less eye to eye.
We have fears of missing out on stuff.

And if you knew how the blue light messes up your brain, well, you’d probably just bring a stuffed animal to bed instead.

Avoid hunching over your screen one last time before bed.

And if you have to use your computer in your bedroom for real work, then get it out way before actually going to sleep.


Find out more about blue light



CULTIVATE HEALTHY SLEEPING HABITS

koala sleeping in tree



Want to stop hitting the snooze button several times each morning?

By changing a few habits, you’ll experience deeper sleep and wake up feeling rested ready to face the day with good energy.


Here are a few tips for creating good sleep habits :

  • Modern day stress is a major factor when it comes to lack of sleep.

Try a  good book.

It’s an old but very effective way to take your thoughts off problems and soothe yourself into a calmer state of mind before sleep.

Avoid thrillers and detective stories! Choose an “easy novel” and read one chapter each night.

Once it becomes a habit, your body adjusts and knows it’s time for dreamland.


  • High-stress levels. If you just can’t wind down,  then try a few minutes of mindful meditation before bedtime.

    Sounds complicated, but it’s really nothing fancy and 10 minutes before sleeping will help shut your brain off.

    It’s all about creating healthy patterns to fight the recurring lack of sleep problem.

    Eventually, your body and brain will follow.

If you don’t know where to start: here’s how to mindful meditate before sleep:



  • Sleep and wake at the same time, even on weekends.


What? Seriously?

Yes, I know, not easy, but try.


You can always adjust for special occasions or a night out with friends.

First, figure out how many hours of sleep you need to feel energized.

To do this write down the time you have to wake up most mornings, then count backward 8 hours – that’s the average for adults.

If you’re still tired after a week, increase your sleep time to 9 hours and see how you feel.

Do this until you find your pattern.

For example, I wake up at 630 most mornings. I need 8.30 hours of sleep so I should be relaxed and ready for bed by 10 pm.

Finding what works for you creates a healthy rhythm for your brain and body.

Once it’s in place and feels natural, you’ll undoubtedly reap daily benefits and liberate your energy for a long time.

Remember that teens and young adults need up to 10 hours for benefits to kick in.


  • Avoid alcohol and late dinners several hours before sleep time.

    Alcohol is full of sugar which plays havoc on your moods and late dinners weigh you down.

    By avoiding these 2 culprits, your body will feel lighter and you won’t be bothered by indigestion which also provokes lack of sleep.


  • Exercise regularly for better sleep.

    No need for elaborate equipment, a simple activity like walking 30 minutes a day will serve you well.

    I prefer to exercise early and get it out of the way!  

    Cherry on the cake: during deep sleep cycles, your body will repair itself naturally.

    Isn’t the body naturally amazing?



  • Make your bedroom stress free.

    – Overheated rooms equal uncomfortable sleep.

    – Also, avoid room distractions like screens and bright lights.

    – Draw the curtains. Even a messy room will cause unconscious stress and in turn, disrupt your sleep.

    – Put stuff away 1 minute in the morning, 1 minute in the evening and turn your room into a peaceful refuge.


  • Relax. Probably the most important tip to sleeping better is to relax a couple of hours before bedtime.

    Just take the time to do things you enjoy. No screens, no obligations, no work.

    The term unwind takes on its full meaning here.



BENEFITS OF GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP

flowery skirt Happy sleep




Needless to say that when we get enough shut-eye at the right times and in the right amounts, things change positively in our brain and in our bodies.  

We become naturally happier.

It takes some effort at first, but the results are worth it.


Some of these benefits include:

1. Higher energy levels daily. You won’t drag your feet to work or school or run on nervous energy due to lack of sleep.

2. Awareness and Focus. Get more done and be highly productive without chaotic planning.

When lack of sleep is no longer a problem you cultivate good habits, and your thinking becomes focused on increasing your concentration and productivity.


“Tired minds don’t plan well. Sleep first, plan later. “Walter Reisch



3. The risk of serious health problems decreases.

Colds, flu, strokes, high blood pressure, depression, overeating.

Why take the chance?

Start by getting some good deep sleep and creating a healthy rhythm.


4. Clear thinking. Your brain will react positively to different situations, and you’ll structure your time more effectively.

Oh, yes, this is a big one!



5. Set up a rhythmic sleep pattern during the hours that serves you best.

By learning to relax, you will enjoy your downtime instead of sneaking in more stress time.

And the deeper you sleep, the more time you get to do what you enjoy.

This is directly related to being more productive, which in itself frees up time to do other things.  


It’s all connected.




GLOWING COMPLEXION

women smiling in mirror



When you get enough sleep, you also get a glowing complexion.

Skin clears. No more panda eyes. Less swelling.  

Your face reflects your mood.

Sleep may just be the key to replacing all sorts of products that line your bathroom shelves.

That’s why it’s called beauty sleep!

Studies show that when you consistently sleep enough and follow a rhythm that’s good for you, even your hair looks healthy!  

Who knew?



HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH SLEEP?

lack of sleep alarm clock



According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), adults need on average 8 hours of sleep.

For teens and young adults  8 hours is a bare minimum- they usually need up to 10 hours as their humor needs stabilizing –  can anyone relate?


Check this chart for estimates.

Age Recommended Amount of Sleep
Infants 12-16 hours a day (including naps)
Toddlers 11-14 hours a day (including naps)
Children 9-12 hours a day
Teens 8-10 hours a day
Adults 8+  hours a day


But that’s not cut in stone and of course, there are exceptions as everything in life related to humans.  

Some need more, others need less.

Only you know if you wake up in the morning full of energy or if you drag your feet.



There are 2 BIG misconceptions about sleep.

  1. Getting the right amount of sleep but at the wrong times.

If you work, spend time on your phone, play video games or party all night until 2 am and wake up at 10 am the following morning, you’re getting 8 hours right?

But you won’t get the health benefits expected from quality sleep.  

Why?  Because it’s not a regular pattern.

Unless you’re working a night shift, you probably won’t be going to sleep at 2 am every night and your body will have a hard time adjusting.

In turn, it will put you off track and at some point, wreak havoc with your body and brain.


2. “Catching up” on lost sleep is also a big illusion.

For example, you may think that waking up at noon on weekends makes up for lost sleep during the week.

But that’s not how it works.

You may feel rested at first. But your sleep rhythm will be out of whack and your lack of sleep problem will not be resolved.

So back to square 1 you go, unfortunately.

You can’t catch up if you consistently lose sleep.

Your body, being an incredible machine, will try to adjust itself to inconsistent sleep patterns.

But eventually, it will fail.


MAKE SLEEP A PRIORITY

banner important

Enduring lack of sleep at any age is not a sign of strength or independance.

It gives us the illusion that we have more time to do stuff,  that we’re all grown up or that we may even be invincible in our careers..

Yet it just makes us weaker in the long run as the effects of being sleep deprived come on slowly.

You don’t feel it right away, but common sense does get buried under daily pressure and at some point, we pay the consequences.

When you understand the benefits of creating healthy sleep habits, it naturally becomes a priority.  

And with practice, you can reap the benefits daily.

As with most things in life, both negative consequences or positive results never happen overnight. They happen over time.

If you don’t have a proper sleeping rhythm that serves you well, then start taking deliberate steps each day to implement small changes and benefit from the results.

Sleep repairs our bodies and nourishes our minds and we clearly make better decisions.  Our energy levels are optimized and stress levels go down.

We get happy, we stay calm, we have more time to enjoy life.


Start tonight.


Create a healthy happy sleep track for yourself.

And take back control.


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