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The importance of establishing a healthy diet and exercise routine are common themes that are repeatedly emphasized and stressed among today's society. Rather you see it on television, social media or while listening to the radio, you are often bombarded with ads on the newest tips and tricks on how to look, eat and feel better. While implementing a healthy diet and exercise routine is important, without the proper amount of rest, all of that hard work is pointless.

Not only can a lack of proper rest create short term problems. Chronic sleep deprivation can affect you long term. Things such as high blood pressure, depression or even a low sex drive are common side effects of sleep deprivation. In this article we will be discussing the health benefits of a proper nights rest, as well as the short/long term effects that a lack of proper rest can have on, not only your mind but your body as well.

So first things first, how much sleep do you actually need?

Well according to the national sleep foundation, your age and the amount of hours of sleep you should get in a day, coincide. This report is based on two years of research and breaks down into nine age specific categories:

  • Adults, 65+ years: 7 to 8 hours.

  • Adults, 26 to 64 years: 7 to 9 hours.

  • Young adults, 18 to 25 years: 7 to 9 hours.

  • Teenagers, 14 to 17 years: 8 to 10 hours.

  • School-age children, 6 to 13 years: 9 to 11 hours.

  • Preschool children, 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours.

  • Toddlers, 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours.

  • Infants, 4 to 11 months: 12 to 15 hours.

  • Newborns, 0 to 3 months: 14 to 17 hours.

The short and long term problems that can occur when you don't get enough rest are:

- LACK OF ALERTNESS: Even missing as little as 1.5 hours of sleep can have a negative impact on the way you feel. Less than 5 hours of sleep a night, increases your risk for high blood pressure.

- IMPAIRED MEMORY: A lack of rest can affect your ability to think, remember or even process information. Sleep helps your brain "lock in" info while securing the thoughts in your mind. This can negatively impact both short and long term memory.

- MOOD CHANGES: Sleep deprivation can make you moody, emotional, and quick tempered. Chronic sleep deprivation can also lead to anxiety or depression.

- WEIGHT GAIN: A lack of sleep triggers your brain to reduce your levels of leptin (leptin is a hormone that decreases your appetite and helps to control your weight). As your leptin decreases, sleep deprivation increase your levels of ghrelin (which is a hormone that sends signals to your brain to feel hungry) which ultimately leads you to indulge in unnecessary snacking.

- DIABETES RISK: Not sleeping enough prevents your body from releasing enough insulin, a hormone that lowers blood sugar levels. People who don't get enough sleep have higher blood sugar levels and an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

- LOW SEX DRIVE: People who don't get enough sleep often have a lower libido. In men, this decreased sex drive is due to a drop in testosterone levels. Sleep deprivation can lower sex hormone levels by 10-15%.

- WEAKENED IMMUNE SYSTEM: Not getting enough rest weakens your immune system's defenses against viruses like those that cause the common cold and flu. You're more likely to get sick when you're exposed to these germs because of your body inability to make enough protective substances.

- HEART PROBLEMS: Less than 5 hours of sleep may cause an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and heart attacks. Sleep deprivation may lead to increased blood pressure and higher levels of chemicals linked to inflammation, both of which play roles in heart disease.

- SKIN ISSUES: Sleeplessness can make you more prone to wrinkles, fine lines and uneven skin tone.

In a nutshell, proper rest is needed for your body to function at its best. While you are resting, this allows your body enough time to heal itself and restore its natural chemical balance. Your brain is able to forge new thought connections and memory retention. Stimulates such as caffeine aren't enough to override your body's need for sleep. In fact caffeine can make sleep deprivation worst by making it harder for you to fall asleep at night. Which in turn can lead to insomnia.

Chronic insomnia can disrupt how your body sends and processes information which leaves your brain exhausted and unable to perform its duties properly. You will start to find it difficult to concentrate or learn new things. You might start to notice that there are delays in your body coordination, which can increase your risk of accidents. Not only does sleep deprivation effect you physically, it also affects your mental and emotional state. You may find yourself more impatient or moodier than usual.

If the lack of sleep continues, you can even start having hallucinations and can trigger those who have bipolar mood disorder into mania. Sleep deprivation can also increase the risk of: impulsive behaviors, anxiety, depression, paranoia and suicidal thoughts.

The best way to prevent sleep deprivation is to make sure that you are getting an adequate amount of sleep every night. Aside from following the recommended sleep guidelines that were shown earlier in the article. Below are some others ways that can help you get back on track with a healthy sleep schedule:

  • limiting daytime naps (or avoiding them altogether)

  • refraining from caffeine past noon or at least a few hours prior to bedtime

  • going to bed at the same time each night

  • waking up at the same time every morning

  • sticking to your bedtime schedule during weekends and holidays

  • spending an hour before bed doing relaxing activities, such as reading, meditating, or taking a bath

  • avoiding heavy meals within a few hours before bedtime

  • refraining from using electronic devices right before bed

  • exercising regularly, but not in the evening hours close to bedtime

  • reducing alcohol intake

If you continue to experience problems sleeping at night and are fighting daytime fatigue, it may be time to consult with a doctor. I hope that you found this article as helpful and informative as I intended.

sending you lots of love & light ❤️

- Maya Benberry

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