Getting a good night's sleep is essential to maintaining our health, but many people sacrifice their sleep time for a variety of reasons. According to David Seitz, MD, medical director of Ascendant Detox, most adults should get “consistent, uninterrupted” sleep between seven and nine hours each night. So it's crucial to determine if we're really getting the sleep we need. We spoke with doctors and gathered their tips for spotting the little signs that you're not getting enough sleep.
1. You're more irritable than usual
Have you been having trouble keeping your cool lately? If so, it could be related to your sleep pattern. “Not getting enough sleep can make a person more prone to irritation and mood swings,” says Dr. Seitz. says Dr. Seitz. When we are tired, our bodies produce more cortisol, a hormone “associated with stress, anxiety and depression,” according to the medical expert.
“In addition, a lack of sleep can reduce our ability to regulate our emotions in the face of stressful or difficult situations,” Dr. Seitz adds. “So, if someone seems particularly irritable, it may be a sign that they are not getting enough sleep.”
2. You get sick a lot
Sleep deprivation is directly linked to illness. In fact, according to Chelsie Rohrscheib, PhD, a sleep expert and neuroscientist at Wesper, long-term sleep deprivation can make us more vulnerable to disease. “Deep sleep is essential for restoring and maintaining many biological systems, including our immune system. For example, our immune system creates new antibodies and infection-fighting white blood cells while we sleep,” she explains. “When we are sick, our immune system increases its activity while we sleep by activating cells that track and destroy infectious pathogens.”
As Rohrscheib points out, this is why we tend to be more tired when we are sick. “If you frequently get infections, such as colds, strep throat or rhinitis, to name a few, you might want to check if poor sleep quality is the cause,” she advises.
3. Your appetite changes
Your eating habits can also be affected if you don't get enough sleep, according to Dr. Seitz. “A lack of sleep can affect the hormones in our bodies that are responsible for regulating appetite,” he explains. As a result, you may find that your hunger levels increase or decrease, and you may develop a sudden craving for less healthy foods, such as sweets and processed carbohydrates.
“If a person is eating too much or too little without any other obvious cause, it could be a sign of sleep deprivation,” Dr. Seitz says.
4. You suffer from headaches in the morning
Waking up with a throbbing headache may happen from time to time, but it shouldn't be part of your daily routine. According to Nancy Mitchell, a registered nurse and writer at Assisted Living, you may have more frequent morning headaches if you don't get enough sleep at night.
“By not getting enough sleep, you're also robbing your nervous system of the ability to regulate itself,” Mitchell explains. “As a result, you may notice that your pain tolerance decreases and you suffer from more frequent headaches.”
5. Your skin doesn't look as glowing
You may also notice physical changes to your skin if you're not getting enough sleep. According to Kemunto Mokaya, MD, a board-certified dermatologist working at Complete Dermatology in Houston, this could include dark circles under your eyes, puffy or swollen eyes, pallor, fine lines and wrinkles, acne breakouts and dryness.
“Lack of sleep can cause blood vessels under the thin skin around the eyes to dilate due to poor circulation and fluid retention in the eye area, which leads to dark circles,” Mokaya explains, adding that this fluid retention can also make your eyes puffy or swollen.
Sleep deprivation can also reduce blood flow to the skin, which can make it look paler, and can also impair the skin's ability to retain moisture, leading to flaky, easily irritated skin. “It can also disrupt hormonal balance, leading to increased sebum production and inflammation, which can contribute to acne and breakouts,” she adds. “Chronic sleep deprivation can accelerate the aging process and lead to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.”
In summary, it's crucial to pay attention to these 5 subtle signs that could indicate you're not getting enough sleep. Insufficient sleep can lead to irritability, increased frequency of illness, changes in appetite, morning headaches and skin problems. To maintain your physical and mental health, make sure you give your body the rest it needs by getting enough sleep each night.