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\"iStock.com/kobrin_photo\"[/caption]We all know that feeling after a few restless nights in a row---yawning, droopy eyes and fatigue. But there may be more serious repercussions like accidents ranging from cuts in the kitchen to car crashes. It is estimated that fatigue causes 100,000 auto crashes and 1,550 crash-related deaths a year in the U.S (The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). The most common version of poor sleep, insomnia, is a serious medical condition that can lead to chronic medical issues such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and more. There are many other sleep disorders, including Sleep Apnea, Restless Leg Syndrome, Parasomnias and more, that can result in the same health risks over time. Poor sleep for any reason affects your work, relationships, and results in an overall poor quality of life.
Signs and Symptoms of Poor Sleep
Now that we know why quality sleep is important, here are 5 lesser-known signs that you are not getting the right sleep:
- Your Skin Has Changed
If you’re feeling like you’ve aged 10 years in 10 months, it might be due to poor sleep. Skin looks youthful because of collagen. When we don’t get enough sleep we produce the stress hormone cortisol, the enemy of collagen, breaking it down, resulting in dull skin, fine lines, and dark undereye circles. Poor sleep can also cause breakouts and blemishes, no matter your age.
- You Just Can’t Remember!
Beyond the ability to properly focus, sleep plays role in the consolidation (organization and retention) of memory. Though we don’t exactly know how, research suggests that the neural connections that form our memories are strengthened while we sleep. So if you want to stay sharp as a tack, don’t take your sleep for granted.
- Weight Gain or Change in Appetite
Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone. It is not just a factor for your skin, but also your waistline. High levels of cortisol are known to increase appetite levels. Lack of sleep is also believed to increase insulin levels after you eat, which can result in greater fat storage and increase your risk for type 2 diabetes. Finally, Ghrelin hormone levels dramatically increase when your sleep quality is poor, resulting in dramatic increases in appetite.
- Difficulty Learning New Concepts
Those neural connections we discussed earlier take part in more than just memory, they are essential to learn (and retain) new skills. Sleep deprivation can over-work neurons in our brain and just like when people are overworked, they perform poorly. The result is a decline in our ability to coordinate information and access previously learned information.
- You’re Sick More Than Usual
If you’ve got a cough you just can’t shake, headaches galore or are pushing the limit on sick days, it might be due to poor sleep. While you sleep your immune system is busy at work making infection-fighting substances like cytokines. These cell-signaling substances are essential in beating bacteria and viruses, helping you sleep, fighting against future infection and seasonal allergies. Simply put, if you don’t get enough sleep, your body is more susceptible to illness, big and small.
What can I do to improve sleep?
There are simple steps you can take to improve your life with better sleep and they don’t include caffeine or glass of wine before bed. First, determine if you need better sleep quality or quantity. Then develop a sleep hygiene plan to make changes in your routine. Check out our tips here. Developing good sleep habits over time can have benefits both inside and out. Always discuss sleep disturbance issues like this with your doctor!Improving your nighttime routine and having a bedtime ritual is a benefit to you no matter what. There are some sleep issues that might need a little more attention from a professional. Your doctor may be able to help you with simple fixes and help nip a more serious problem in the bud.You may notice these signs but if you sleep in the same room with another person, check with them if they notice anything about your sleep. Some examples of when it is time to check with your doctor:□ Regularly experience restless or sleepless nights□ You sleep less than 6 hours per night□ You feel tired or exhausted after waking and throughout the day□ An increase of anxiety or headaches□ Impaired memory or ability with normal cognitive functions□ Grinding your clenching your teeth□ Loud snoring□ Seems like you’re not breathing or holding your breath for short periods during sleep.□ Frequently talking in your sleep□ SleepwalkingHere are some other interesting articles and information about sleep:https://healthbridgeinfo.com/services/sleep-medicine/https://www.bustle.com/p/13-weird-reasons-why-youre-still-tired-when-you-wake-up-according-to-science-2997547https://www.longislandpress.com/2018/03/20/sleeping-to-tip-top-health/