Did you know? One-third of adults in the United States aren’t getting the proper amount of sleep they need. Several factors define sleep quality, including the following:
- You do/don’t fall asleep within 30 minutes of getting into bed.
- You do/don’t sleep without disruptions.
- You do/don’t sleep the recommended number of hours for your age group. (For adults, this number is between seven and nine hours.)
- You do/don’t fall asleep quickly (within 20 minutes) on the occasion that you do wake.
- You do/don’t feel rested, restored, and energized upon rising in the morning.
Poor sleep habits are caused by several factors, such as stress and mental health conditions, chronic illnesses, sleep apnea, and other undiagnosed sleep disorders. And there are many signs that you aren’t sleeping enough, which include daytime fatigue, an increase in skin blemishes, weight gain, moodiness, and even insomnia.
Let’s explore each sign in further detail in the coming sections.
You Feel Tired During the Day
Do you ever feel like you’re exhausted during the day? Do you need to take an afternoon nap? Do you have a caffeine addiction or a need to consume several cups of coffee throughout the day to function? If you’ve answered yes to one or all of these questions, you likely are struggling from poor sleep health.
Poor sleep results from multiple things, ranging from excessive anxiety to an underdeveloped airway. Other risk factors include
- Poor sleep hygiene
- Poor lifestyle choices
- Work obligations
- Sleep disorders
Do not take sleep deprivation lightly. If you’re finding yourself sleepy during the day, the first step is to reflect on your sleep habits and consider the factors above. If you notice some problem areas, it’s best to address them first and foremost. Daytime fatigue is one of the most common indicators of sleep deprivation and should be taken seriously to avoid many other downstream effects of poor sleep health.
Your Skin Is Breaking Out
Is your skin looking uneven? Are you experiencing new breakouts? Sleep deprivation is one of the leading causes of acne. This is because a lack of sleep causes abnormal fluctuations in your hormone levels and creates a chemical imbalance in your skin. You might also notice darkened areas around your eyes or a particular puffiness that’s out of the norm. This is because hyperpigmentation is another result of inadequate sleep.
“Without regular, quality sleep, many people begin to notice an increase in fine lines, uneven pigmentation and reduced elasticity in their skin,” shares Walk-in Dermatology. “Simply put, they look older than their actual years would indicate because lack of sleep weakens the skin’s ability to repair and rejuvenate itself.”
If your skin is breaking out, the first step is to analyze your skincare and sleep routine. If one or both seem out of whack, commit to a healthier routine. Your skin will thank you!
You Are Gaining Weight
Many individuals who struggle with proper sleeping habits also report weight gain, decreased movement, and an increased appetite. In fact, less than six hours of sleep each night puts you at a greater risk of obesity. We mentioned hormone imbalances in the last section. This also contributes to an overactive desire for consumption. Our bodies also crave higher-calorie foods when tired, such as sugar and salt-based products and fast food.
“Sleep quantity and quality have been shown to play a role in regulating the hormone ghrelin, known as the hunger hormone that controls appetite,” says Nancy L. Kondracki, MS, RD, LDN. “Further, there’s evidence that the relationship between insufficient sleep and overweight is bidirectional.”
As mentioned, when you are sleep-deprived, you eat more. And the more you eat, the less you move, the likelier your chance of being obese, and the worse sleep you get. It can be challenging to break these vicious cycles, but it is also essential to sleep better and experience a healthier lifestyle.
You Are Highly Emotional
“Research shows that sleep deprivation increases activity in the amygdala—the emotional rapid-response center of the brain,” says Michael J. Breus, PhD. “This part of the brain controls many of our immediate emotional reactions. When short on sleep, the amygdala goes into overdrive, causing us to be more intensely reactive to situations.”
In short, sleep-deprived individuals tend to be more emotional, moodier, and more easily angered. This is because our patience and pleasant personality are often the first to go when our body and mind are exhausted. Lack of sleep also impairs our ability to read others’ emotions. It’s almost as if we become more zombie-like.
You Experience Insomnia or Restlessness
Unfortunately, lack of sleep can worsen stress, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. This often leads to worry, restlessness, and insomnia, which continues the vicious cycle of sleep deprivation. Sleeplessness also impairs our memory and concentration.
“When we are sleep deprived, our focus, attention, and vigilance drift, making it more difficult to receive information,” reports the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Without adequate sleep and rest, over-worked neurons can no longer function to coordinate information properly, and we lose our ability to access previously learned information.”
How to Improve Your Sleep
Here are some factors to consider when wanting to improve your sleep:
- Limit the use of electronic devices in the hour leading up to bedtime.
- Follow a consistent sleep schedule, as circadian rhythms are essential to our overall health.
- Create a relaxing environment in your bedroom with a white noise machine, soft fan, warm blankets, an aromatherapy diffuser, and blackout curtains.
- Ensure your schedule allows for the minimum recommended amount of sleep: seven to nine hours for individuals age 18-64.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine consisting of a warm bath, meditation, light stretching, and reading a book.
- Limit your intake of caffeinated beverages and alcohol, as they can negatively impact your sleep quality.
- Prioritize getting at least 15 minutes of sunlight each morning to wake up and adequately reset your circadian rhythm.
It’s essential to reflect on your sleep quality, which plays a significant role in your overall health and well-being. If you still have troubles after implementing these tips and tricks, talk with your trusted healthcare provider, as they can take the necessary steps to ensure you are sleeping well and living an optimal quality of life.