You’re grouchy, your head aches, and you can’t stop yawning. Everyone knows how bad it feels when you don’t get enough sleep. But did you know that a lack of sleep over time can have some serious effects on your overall health? If you often sacrifice your shut-eye, it’s time to learn how lack of sleep affects the body.
How Lack of Sleep Affects the Body
It’s an unfortunate fact of senior life: The older you get, the harder it is to get quality sleep. In fact, up to 70 percent of seniors report having problems falling and staying asleep. Some seniors end up resigning themselves to insomnia, frequently waking up in the middle of the night, or getting up earlier and earlier every morning. There are even some people who think that seniors just don’t need as much sleep as the rest of us! But that’s a misconception. Adults should be sleeping at least seven hours a night regardless of their age. Before you give up on getting a good night’s sleep, it’s important to understand how lack of sleep affects the body. It might surprise you!
What Is Sleep Debt?
To understand how lack of sleep affects the body, it’s helpful to discuss the concept of sleep debt. Sleep debt is exactly what it sounds like: the overall physical and mental effect of missing sleep. Sleep is a restorative state for your body. It allows your brain time and space to process the things you’ve experienced, and it gives your body the chance to fortify itself for the day ahead. Missing out on sleep means your body does not get the chance to engage in this restoration, and the more sleep you miss, the worse it gets. Missing only one hour of sleep is so bad for your body it will take you four days to fully recover!
Most people don’t just miss one hour of sleep, though. If you’re a chronic problem sleeper, you may be racking up some serious sleep debt on a daily basis, and the effects can be dire.
A Lack of Sleep Is Bad for Your Brain
When you have a bad night of sleep, you usually feel “off” the next day. You might find yourself in a bad mood, snapping at friends and family or picking fights. You might even find yourself struggling to remember things you do and say every day. Why is this? Your brain requires sleep to function properly. Missing as little as two hours of sleep can seriously affect your brain’s ability to recall information and moderate your mood. The more sleep you miss, the more your brain will struggle to pick up the slack. In other words, if you regularly miss out on sleep and you have frequent problems with memory or bad moods, it might be time to connect the dots.
A Lack of Sleep Is Even Worse for Your Body
As bad as missing sleep is for your brain, it’s even worse for the rest of your body. Missing sleep means your body won’t get the chance to rest and recover from the daily wear-and-tear it experiences. Unsurprisingly, this will affect your health. First off, bad sleep habits are associated with lots of general known health issues like weakened immune systems, weight gain, and muscle fatigue. Secondly, missing sleep can make certain health conditions even worse. A lack of sleep has been connected to increased risks of diabetes, high blood pressure, and even balance issues. If you’re a senior, missing out on sleep is asking for trouble!
If you’re one of the many seniors that has trouble getting a good night’s sleep, don’t give up. There are plenty of things you can try to improve your sleep, and it’s well worth the effort. Pleasant dreams!
Are you looking for an assisted living community in Tennessee? Check out Hearthside Senior Living. Our warm and inviting community makes it easy for seniors to embrace a healthy lifestyle, with home-cooked and restaurant-style meals, exercise classes, and a nurse devoted to residents’ health and wellness. To learn more about our amenities and services, please give us a call at 901-459-3853 or contact us online.