Today’s blog is another crucial reminder to stop skimping on your sleep if you can help it. If you work a very busy job with lots of responsibility, your post-work wine and TV hours are usually a precious window of time to shut your brain off, relax, and decompress. It can be very tempting to stay up watching TV, playing on your phone, etc. when you’ve been busy all day. But if you’re doing this when you have to be up early the next morning, it’s causing much more damage than you think. Here are some things that have been shown to occur in sleep deprived people:
Reduced Insulin Sensitivity
This basically means your blood sugar handling is out of whack the day after a night of poor sleep, leaving you essentially “metabolically obese.” This is HORRIBLE for your energy, your mood and focus, and can lead to greater risk for weight gain and even type 2 diabetes if chronically occurring (especially when in conjunction with poor nutrition and lack of exercise).
Greater Risk for Heart Attack
A recent study showed that people chronically sleeping 6 hours or less per night had higher levels of inflammatory markers in their blood, all of which are strongly linked to 2-3x greater risk of heart attacks.
Reduced Heart Rate Variability (HRV)
HRV is your body’s ability to go back and forth between a stressed state and a calm state. When you are under slept, HRV goes down – meaning that if something happens to cause you stress, you have a much harder time coming back down from that stress-mode and bringing yourself back into balance. You may have already noticed this if you’ve ever been extremely tired and cranky, and something seemingly innocuous will just get under your skin and drive you nuts.
These are just a few of the things that occur when you are not sleeping enough. For some of you, such as new parents, obviously a lot of this is not in your control for this phase of your life. But if you’re able to set up your work/life schedule such that you can give yourself an 8-hour window to be in bed with the lights out every night, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor for your mental, physical, and emotional health. Learn more about how to prioritize your health by meeting with one of our health professionals here!