In our fast-paced, over-achieving culture, functioning on lack of sleep has practically become a badge of honor. But what this sleep deprivation does to your health is nothing to be proud of. It’s not just that you feel cranky and groggy the next day. Over time, lack of proper sleep can seriously impair your physical and mental health. A 6-8 hour sleep cycle is an essential part of your body’s self-repair system and your brain’s system for integrating new information. Without it, normal functioning starts to break down.
Sleep deprivation is linked with a wide range of health problems — in fact, an estimated 90% of people with chronic sleep issues also have another health condition. Here are some of the ways that poor sleep may be affecting you:
You’re Slower on the Uptake
A tired brain causes lapses in your attention, concentration, and cognitive function, making your thinking fuzzy and slowing your reaction time. Not only does this lower your productivity, it can make you dangerously accident-prone — especially during multitasking activities such as driving. In fact, driving while fatigued is estimated to cause over 100,000 car crashes per year.
It Impairs Memory and Learning
Your brain absorbs new information all day, but it processes it at night. During sleep, your brain consolidates memories, strengthens neural connections, rehearses skills, and clears out unimportant information so that you can start again fresh the next day. Without this, you struggle to retain and recall what you’ve learned and have a harder time absorbing new input.
It Erodes Your Self-Control
Sleep deprivation weakens the brain’s “executive function” — the control center in charge of decision-making, planning, and prioritizing. This is also the part of the brain that helps you manage your emotional reactions and choose how to respond. When you lack sleep, you are more prone toward choices and behaviors that you might regret later.
It Puts Your Health at Risk
Have you noticed that you’re more likely to get sick after a poor night’s sleep? During sleep, your body beefs up your immune system by producing cytokines to help protect you against common viruses and infections. But sleep can also protect you from more serious health risks by balancing hormones that help keep blood sugar and inflammation in check, supporting your heart health.
It Disrupts Your Emotional Balance
A good night’s sleep helps keep your hormones balanced, which supports a healthy mood. On the other hand, lack of sleep is closely linked with chronic emotional disturbances such as worry, sadness, and stress. Unfortunately, sleep issues and mood issues seem to perpetuate each other: if you’ve got one, you’ve probably got the other.
It Can Lead to Weight Gain
When you’re low on sleep, the hormones that govern your appetite become confused. They can tell you you’re hungry when you’re not, or forget to tell you when you’re full. They’ll even stimulate cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods. All this adds up to extra unwanted weight gain. When it comes to your weight, if you don’t snooze, you don’t lose.
It Ages Your Skin
Tired eyes after a poor night’s sleep are just the beginning. Sleep loss can also increase skin aging over time. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol, which breaks down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic. The result: more lines, creases, and dark circles that show your wear and tear.
As you can see, the benefits of good sleep go far beyond making you feel better the next day. A healthy sleep cycle will help you feel, look, and function at your best in the long term, too. You’ll perform better at work, be more present with your friends and family, and experience less frustration and moodiness during the day, enjoying a better quality of life all around.
So what does it take to restore a healthy sleep cycle? If you are chronically sleep deprived, you’ll have to reset your natural circadian rhythms, which tell your body when to wind down for sleep and when to start waking up. Light and dark are important triggers for these natural rhythms, so it helps to reduce your exposure to light as you prepare for bed — especially the blue light of digital screens.
Managing stress and calming the mind is also important for settling into sleep. It helps to have a relaxing bedtime routine that allows you to let go of your daily concerns and minimize sensory stimulation. Take a bath, light some candles, listen to laid-back music, do some gentle stretches, or anything that puts you at ease and quiets your thoughts.
Supplements can help, too — but choose them carefully. Some herbal supplements are little more than muscle relaxants; others are natural sedatives that will make you drowsy for sleep, but leave you groggy in the morning. The problem with sedatives is that even if they work when you take them, they don’t improve your natural ability to sleep; in fact, they make you dependent on them.
What you really want is a supplement that will support your circadian rhythms, working in harmony with your body to help nudge your sleep cycle back into balance. Our Smarter Sleep supplement was designed to do just that. Made with clinically tested natural ingredients, Smarter Sleep gently boosts serotonin and melatonin levels to help retune your internal clock, while increasing GABA activity in the brain to calm your mind without any drowsy sedative effects. It works because it supports your own natural sleep cycle — and through healthy sleep, your body heals itself.
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