The Cost of Poor Sleep

I wasn't surprised when I learned the risks associated with lack of sleep.  I have experienced them myself too well.  With three children from 1 to 11 years old, I have my share of reasons to miss sleep. My 11 year old wakes me at 6 am and my 1 year old goes to sleep at 10pm, so yeah sleep is what?  I used to think I would be ok and that some coffee will do the trick but turns out the price I pay for chronic sleep deprivation is not only reflected with my fatigue or lack of focus but also affect my long-term health and ultimately my life expectancy.  Oooh, and this is not good because I kinda want to live.

  • Insufficient sleep is likely to cause weight gain.  
  • Inadequate sleep influences the way the body processes glucose and can potentially lean to type 2 diabetes.
  • Just a single night of insufficient night sleep with people suffering for hypertension can cause elevated blood pressure throughout the next day.  That condition, eventually increases the risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke.  
  • Mood disorders such as depression, anxiety and mental distress have been connected to chronic sleep issues.
  • You become a public menace and in the workplace by affecting your performance and causing accidents such as drowsy driving incidents and fatalities. 
  • Studies show that sleeping five hours or less per night increases mortality risk by roughly 15 perfect! I don't know but I would love to get back that 15% life expectancy back and sleep is the key to it. 
So that's a lot of bad stuff right there but what can we do about it? How to sleep better.
  1. Stay away from caffeine, alcohol, nicotine or stimulants (5 Hour Energy anyone?) that interferes with sleep at least later in the day because your body won't have sufficient time to flush it from your body.  Drink a glass of water for every one cup of coffee, it's for dehydration. 
  2. Turn your bedroom into a sleep-friendly environment: quiet, darn, cool, comfy mattress & pillows. Ooh, I love my fluffy pillows and blankies.  They get me Zen.
  3. Have a soothing pre-sleep routing such as light reading or warm bath or light reader in the bath.
  4. Expose yourself to natural light during the day, this maintains your internal clock on your sleep/wake cycle.  Open up them windows and soak in the sun light.  This is so important, gets your Vitamin C going and you'll feel more awake during the day.
  5. Set your internal clock by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.  Eventually, the more I do this, the easier it gets.  Sure, this means I wake up every single Saturday and Sunday morning at 6am, but hey, it's all good right? Apparently, my brain has no idea what a weekend is. Other than a internal clock, somebody needs to teach my brain about an internal calendar.
  6. Finish dinner early and watch for fluid intake as this could wake up during the night.  The dinner thing, I get it, but the drinking fluids doesn't affect me. A camel's bladder ain't got nothing on mine!
  7. Exercise.  I can't believe how important this is for everything health related, really and even for sleep.  Very important though is to keep your workout at least three hours before you go to bed, so your body has time to wind down or you'll be up till 4 in the morning.
Treat your sleep as a priority rather than a luxury.  I know sometimes this is easier said than done but our kiddos depend on me and being healthy is the first thing I can do to be there for them.  My mother suffers from chronic sleep deprivation and while not every day, it has affected her overall health. There is nothing fun in running on 4 hours of sleep a day.

 I require at least 8 hours of sleep to be a well and functional human being, anything less and you have to drag me out of bed and beat me with a stick to wake me. Sure, I may be the "World's Deepest Sleeper" but nothing like hearing my newborn baby's whimper to shoot me awake right on up and Speedy Gonzales up to see what's wrong.  "Aw, she just moooved."

Happy Sleeping! Or try to. :)

Lorena Frith

Lifestyle Photographer in the Houston, Tx area.

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