A man has fallen asleep on a couch. A book has dropped to the floor.

The impact of sleep deprivation on your health

Catharine Nixon, founder of VitaminC Health, and known as The Sleep Whisperer, helps people sort their sleep out and rebuild lost health through diverse strategies. Catharine is an experienced healthcare executive, registered nurse, and sleep coach.

A good night’s sleep is important for adults and children. It’s where health begins, regenerates, and is truly impacted.

Misunderstood and often ignored, a lack of sleep eventually catches up with you and impacts you more than you realise.

Why is it important to have a good night’s sleep?

How well you sleep is linked to the health of your physical body, mind, energy and how you feel about the world around you.

What happens when you’re sleep deprived?

Sleep deprivation impacts your health in many ways. Normal sleep processes to repair and regenerate the body are interrupted, and this creates a knock on effect. The body is starved of its needs and begins compensating for its losses. 

Initially, niggling symptoms appear, but as time passes these niggles worsen and work themselves towards more dramatic changes that can alter your health, and affect the way you see yourself and the world around you. 

Life becomes more foggy, stressful and unhappiness sets in. 

Sleep is the master of giving your body the chance to reset, repair and regenerate every 24hrs.

When it is lacking, the world can feel like it’s against you.

Let’s take a closer look at what happens when you sleep…

How does sleep deprivation affect your hormones?

The close link between your hormones and sleep affects your appetite, body shape, and how you respond to situations.

Hormones are strong influencers with how you think, feel, act and perform. Sleep’s impact on them is profound.

Your hormones are powerful chemical messengers, working non stop around the clock delivering complex instructions.

A lack of sleep disrupts their ability to regulate and perform their tasks well.

Why is good sleep important for weight loss?

Are you fighting an uphill battle with your weight?

Constant hunger, sugar cravings and difficulty shifting those love handles goes hand-in-hand with poor sleep, all thanks to the hormones ghrelin and leptin responsible for hunger and satiety. 

The hormone insulin also gets caught up with troubled sleep, increasing your risk for type II diabetes and making weight management more challenging.

So it’s no surprise then why weight dilemmas become a constant battle and why exercise alone doesn’t get the job done.

How does sleep deprivation affect your mood and energy levels?

A good night’s snooze uplifts your mood and helps you wake ready to face the day.

Sleep deprivation on the other hand exacerbates stress and is connected to irritability, anxiety and depression.

A healthy dose of sleep each night powers energy levels but when lacking, can leave you running on an empty tank.

Why is good sleep important for the brain?

Your brain also maximises sleep to organise and store thought processes in a way to help you recall your memories.

Sleep is crucial for both basic and high-performance cognitive function.

Research in recent years has discovered how sleep helps remove toxins from the brain by allowing cerebrospinal fluid to flow in and out and wash over the brain while sleeping.

The pattern of amyloid plaque buildup toxic to the brain associated with Alzeheimers disease has recently been discovered also in those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.

How does sleep deprivation affect libido and erectile dysfunction?

The emotional side of your body that helps you connect and bring more intimacy into your sex life is nurtured by sleep, and a lack of sleep can also affect the physical side too. 

Erectile dysfunction is common among those suffering from the common sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnea.

Low libido is also linked to sleep deprivation.

Relationships also reap the benefits from solid undisturbed sleep, but when you throw in tossing, turning and snoring that’s loud enough to rock the house next door – it can be a deal breaker.

Don’t let your snoring banish you from the bedroom!

How does sleep deprivation affect your immune system?

Your immune system also makes good use of time during sleep and in fact, is most active during this time of day. Poor sleep impacts both your immune system and how it responds.

Be careful not to skimp on getting a healthy dose of zzzz’s or you might otherwise catch the cold more frequently, or take longer to recover from illness.

How does sleep deprivation affect your heart health?

The incidence and risk for developing multiple cardiovascular disorders increases with poor sleep. Sleep provides an essential rest mode period for your heart.

Can sleep deprivation affect your skin?

Sleep deprivation accelerates internal and external ageing and can leave you looking tired and fatigued, increases inflammation and increases your risk of developing various health conditions.

Sleep is well known for its repair and regeneration abilities thanks to the increased release of the human growth hormone and increased production of collagen.  The night time hormone, melatonin, also helps to fight the effects from UV and pollution.

It’s so important to get a good night’s sleep

The belief that sleep is only about hitting the pillow each night cannot be farther from the truth.

Sleep troubles increase your risk for developing a range of serious medical conditions, bring havoc to your day alongside creating challenges for those who are close to you. 

Sleep can either make you feel on top of the world or put you in the depths of despair with no escape route.

If you struggle to sleep soundly and 7-9hours per night it’s important that you reach out for help to understand what’s troubling your sleep and get a plan together to resolve the issue.

Treat sleep as the hero in your health to live life to thrive, not merely just survive.

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