4 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
When was the last time you woke up feeling rested, rejuvenated and ready to tackle the day? If you’re like millions of American’s – myself included – you probably can’t even remember. Nevertheless, many of us continue to believe that getting 3-5 hours of sleep a night is sufficient, despite overwhelming research suggesting otherwise.
The truth is, poor sleeping habits could be considered a risk factor for many diseases. Getting too little sleep night after night has been found to increase a person’s changes of developing some risky health conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, to name a few. Recent studies have even linked chronic poor sleep to an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease, because it causes your brain to miss a very important healing process.
Think You’re Getting by on 3-5 Hours of Sleep?
Even if you think you’re an exception to the “get 8-hours a night” rule (and who doesn’t?), your body may be suffering behind the scenes, giving you signals that it’s in need of more time to rest and recoup every night.
Here are four ways your body may be sounding the alarm on your lack of shuteye.
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1. Increased Desire to Snack and Weight Gain
When researchers at the Mayo Clinic reduced average sleep time for a group of healthy individuals, they found that the lack of sleep caused study participants to consume an extra 550 calories per day, on average. A daily caloric increase of this much could result in gaining more than a pound per week!
2. Memory Problems
Perhaps the most disturbing long-term consequence of chronic sleep trouble is the recently-discovered increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. While in a restful sleep, brain cells shrink in size, allowing fluid to enter the brain and flush toxins associated with plaque formation. The importance of this process was seen in a recent study published in JAMA Neurology, which found that when study participants got less sleep, they had more beta-amyloid buildup in the brain.
3. Blood Sugar Imbalances
Not getting enough shut-eye can have a harmful impact on fat cells, increasing their insulin resistance by up to 30 percent and setting the stage for future blood sugar trouble.
4. Heart Trouble
Quick to pin the blame on cholesterol, many high-risk heart patients abandon butter and ignore the more important calls to rest and get enough sleep. “The evidence is certainly growing that sleep should be added to our list of CVD risk factors,” noted Dr. Monique Verschuren, PhD, of National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in Bilthoven, the Netherlands. Her study, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, found that the effect of sufficient sleep on heart-related deaths could be as strong as not smoking.
Research recently presented to the American College of Cardiology supports Dr. Verschuren’s findings. A study out of the University of Chicago found that people getting less than six hours of sleep each night were two times more likely to suffer a stroke or heart attack and 1.6 times more likely to have congestive heart failure.
Looking for ways to improve your sleep? Be sure to check out this article for a few tips on how you can optimize your sleep cycle.