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How does not getting enough sleep affect your health?

No-one likes to skimp on sleep if they can avoid it. 

But if staying up late to cram in one more episode or waking up extra early just to check Facebook sounds familiar to you, you might not even realise how much sleep you’re missing out on.

Clocking up enough hours’ of rest is vital for overall health – and if you fail to sleep sounding for at least eight hours a night, the implications emotionally, mentally and physically can be far-reaching. 

While New Zealanders have generally been found to be balanced sleepers[1], with an average bedtime of 10:48pm and waking up at 6:54am, it turns out Kiwis have some sleeping skeletons hidden under their bed.

According to the New Zealand Medical Journal, a national survey found that 13 per cent of Kiwis aged 20-59 years were affected by at least one symptom of insomnia, combined with daytime sleepiness[2].

How sleep issues impact health

The study also found that insomnia was associated with a number of health issues such as poor physical health, poor mental health and even symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Even more concerning is the severity of the potential long-term consequences of sleep deprivation, such as the increased risk to susceptible heart disease and cancer.

Sound like reason for concern? It is. If you struggle with sleep, it’s important to understand that the effects of sleep deprivation on your health are numerous and can lead to some dangerous health scenarios.

Free Sleep Diary

There are, however, facts that you can be aware of to help you understand sleep deprivation better, as well as tips on how to combat it.

Aside from the potential for serious long-term effects, here are some things which result from a lack of sleep which you might notice sooner rather than later:

  • Loss of memory. That’s right – not getting enough z’s can gradually impact the important brain function of memory.
    During deep sleep is when the mind cements all the memories you’ve made during your awake hours, so if you want to make in-roads at your job or succeed at school, it’s best to ensure you’re getting a healthy night’s sleep so that all of the information is retained.
  • Accidents. No-one is going to be operating at the optimum if they’re lethargic and being drowsy will leave you accident-prone. Studies have shown the effects of sleep deprivation can contribute to car accidents and occupational accidents.
  • Diet, appetite and weight. If you desire to get in the best shape of your life, start your health journey right by getting enough sleep. Missing sleep, even in the short term, can affect your appetite and cause you to crave foods that you should avoid. Sleep deprivation also leads to consuming larger portion sizes, which won’t be of any benefit to your waistline.
  • Reckless behavior. Have you ever been so hungry that you’re almost past the point of hunger and you’ve moved into a bewildered, odd state? Sleep deprivation can have a similar side effect – only it can cause the non-sleeper to make irrational, hasty decisions which may not be in their best interest.

Sleep deprivation is not an enjoyable past-time, so if you’re sacrificing sleep for work, study or to catch-up with friends, it would be wise to think twice about missing out on rest.

 Not getting enough sleep?

If you feel like you are not getting enough sleep, or that the quality of your rest leaves you nodding off during the day, it's a good idea to find out more about what the issue is.

Fortunately, there are some really easy tools you can use to start your journey of discovery. Take our free online sleep assessment to start with, or order a home sleep test kit.

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If you’re unwillingly missing sleep due to a sleep condition such as sleep apnea, now you know the importance of getting your sleep condition treated so that you can continue living your life free from these health consequences.

To get on the front foot and get rid of your sleep deprivation, make sure you take the first step and order a home sleep test.

There’s also some practical tips to live by to assist you get more sleep to combat your sleep deprivation, including[3]:

  • Try to avoid alcohol and cut right back on caffeine
  • Aim to reduce your fluid intake before bedtime
  • Don’t consume a heavy, carbohydrate-laden meal right before you go to bed
  • Try to quit smoking
  • Incorporate daily exercise into your schedule, but be sure to have it done and dusted well before you go to bed
  • Try a bedtime routine – a cup of milk, a soak in a bathtub or read a book
  • Last, but certainly not least, establish a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule – and stick to it!

Do you struggle with sleep?

Contact us today to talk about how we can help diagnose and treat sleep issues.

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References:

[1] http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=11641219

[2] https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal/read-the-journal/all-issues/2010-2019/2012/vol-125-no-1349/article-okeeffe

[3] https://www.neurological.org.nz/brain-health/sleep

 

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