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  • Writer's pictureLacy Bursick

5 Ways Sleep Affects Your Happiness, Health, & Wellbeing

After a long day, you feel exhausted, burnt out, and even a little irritable. Unfortunately, though, you have to wake up early tomorrow and won’t be getting more than a few hours of sleep once again. This is a common habit for adults to get into; however, it is a dangerous one.

Not getting enough sleep doesn’t just leave you feeling tired – it impacts your body in more ways than realized. After just 16 hours of being awake, we start to experience mental deterioration and psychological deterioration in the body. After 20 hours, your mental capacity is as deficient as someone drunk.

The CDC says it is recommended for adults to get seven or more hours of sleep per night.

A lack of sleep affects your mood, can cause sleeping disorders leading to more severe ailments, and it impacts the way your body heals.

Here are five ways sleep can impact your happiness, health, and overall wellbeing. 

Mental Health

The relationship between sleep and mental health is complex. Insomnia is a symptom of mental health issues such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression. However, when sleep disorders such as sleep apnea are addressed, issues like depression usually improve. Chronic sleep problems affect 50-80% of patients with psychiatric problems, according to Harvard Health. Lack of sleep also increases negative thinking, emotional vulnerability, and psychological issues like mania. Stress hormones can cause a disruption of REM (rapid eye movement), which is known to impact the brain significantly and cause mood issues, and general mental health issues.

Immune System

A lack of sleep lowers your overall immune system. After just one night of 4 to 5 hours of sleep, there is 70% decrease in anti-cancer fighting immune cells, also called natural cancer killer cells. If you sleep for short periods, you are at a higher risk of cancer. The World Health Organization calls nightshift work a probable carcinogen because it disrupts sleep-wake rhythms.

Cardiovascular Health

A person who gets less than 6 hours of sleep has a 200% increased risk of having a fatal heart attack or stroke in their lifetime. During your deep sleep, your body gives you a natural blood pressure medication. Your heart rate drops, and your blood pressure goes down, and without sleep, your body is not getting this natural recovery. An example of this is daylight saving time. The next day after losing sleep time, there is a 24% increase in heart attacks.

Obesity

Sleep deprivation causes hormonal imbalance, which leads to overeating and weight gain. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body has increased leptin and ghrelin hormones, which regulate appetite. When you lack sleep, your metabolism also decreases, and you have increased cortisol levels, which is also linked to obesity. Lack of sleep can go beyond chemicals and hormones too. It can cause people to select high-calorie and fatty foods. Those who don’t get enough sleep are less likely to exercise too, so this trickle effect can make it even more difficult for weight loss.

Alzheimer’s Disease

When you don’t get enough sleep, there is an increase in the toxic protein called beta-amyloid. Beta-amyloid is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. When you sleep at night, your brainwashes away the toxic protein. A lack of sleep means that toxic protein will build-up, increasing your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.  

What can you do to overcome these sleep-related health concerns?

These are just a few health and wellness issues that can arise from a lack of sleep, but several other problems can occur. A lack of sleep prevents the brain from making new memories. It also can cause an increase in diabetes, issues with the reproductive system, and other illnesses.

Overall, getting better sleep is a solution for all of these problems. By practicing better sleep habits and making yourself comfortable for bed, you ensure your body gets the rest and recovery needed.

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