5 Ways to Tell You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
Have you ever found yourself pouring the morning’s third cup of coffee and wondering why you seem to need so much caffeine lately to power through your workday? Or maybe you’ve misplaced your keys for the second time in a week, or you know you have an afternoon meeting coming up, but you just don’t remember which colleague you are supposed to call.
These moments of forgetfulness and feelings of sluggishness might have a simple explanation: lack of sleep. Not getting enough sleep can have impacts both big and small on your mental, physical and emotional health. Some signs of sleep deprivation are obvious – yawning and feeling like you really need a nap. But long-term effects of shortchanging your sleep by an hour or two each night can be much more dangerous to your health, including contributing to chronic illnesses, research has shown.
Why sleep is so important. There’s a lot going on inside your body when you fall asleep each night, according to the National Institutes of Health. It’s like a specialized cleaning and construction crew are sent out with a long to-do list. The parts of your brain involved in memory-making and problem-solving are rebuilt and strengthened. Small repairs to your heart and blood vessels can only happen when you’re asleep. It’s also during this time that your body builds a healthy immune system and maintains hormone levels.
Most adults need about seven or eight hours of sleep to allow all these processes to take place, and to function well the next day. If you miss a few hours of sleep – or regularly don’t get enough shut-eye and begin to run a “sleep deficit” – you might notice a few of these tell-tale signs that you need to get more sleep:
You feel like you’re on the verge of dozing off. Whether you’re trying to focus during a boring Zoom meeting or find yourself closing your eyes while sitting in your car while stopped at a red light, you’ll probably feel like you’re ready to nod off at any quiet moment. You might feel this while you are reading a book, watching television or listening to music.
You have “fuzzy” thinking. Being able to concentrate on your work can be difficult. You might have a hard time making decisions or solving problems. It might take you longer to get your work done. Mistakes can be more frequent.
You’re in a bad mood. Lack of sleep can make you irritable, and you might find you are short-tempered or don’t have the patience with people you normally would. Chronic sleep deprivation can also lead to feelings of depression, anxiety or frustration.
You get sick more often. Since you need sleep to keep your immune system healthy, a lack of zzz’s can leave you more susceptible to feeling run-down. This can mean you’ll catch colds, the flu or other illnesses more easily.
You lean on caffeine. A couple cups of coffee or a pot of tea is a favorite way to start the day for many people. But if you find you’re dependent on several servings of caffeine to carry you into the afternoon and get through the day, it’s likely a sign your body is not getting the sleep it needs.
- Dreaming of a Good Night’s Sleep? You May Have Sleep Deprivation
- Ever Experienced Sleep “Drunkenness”? It’s Not What You’d Expect
- Want to Sleep Better? 6 Daytime Dos and Don’ts
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