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What Happens When I Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

2 MIN READ • 12th March 2020

Have you accidentally poured cold water in your coffee this morning? Felt your eyes start to close during a 4pm meeting? Read on to find out why you should prioritise an early night…

Hit the snooze button

“Sleep is essential for your body to function and healthy adults need between seven to nine hours of shut-eye per night,” says Dr Diana Gall ( “So if you usually wake up at 6am, you should aim to be asleep for 10pm. When we don’t get enough, it can affect certain processes such as memory formation, reaction times, and even the amount of stress that we experience. When we become sleep deprived, levels of the stress hormone cortisol are elevated and over time, increased levels of this can contribute to some serious health concerns, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes. You may also feel more on edge due to the elevated levels of the stress hormone. As well as the above concerns, a lack of sleep can also make you hungrier, and contribute to weight gain due to an imbalance of the appetite-regulating hormones, leptin and ghrelin.”

Lights out

“The benefits of a decent night’s sleep include a stronger immune system, faster reactions, regulated appetite, improved memory, faster healing, an increased ability to learn or retain information, and a decreased risk of some of the major health conditions,” says Dr Gall. “Getting a good night’s sleep is also about making sure that the quality of your rest is good enough, as some conditions, including sleep apnoea can affect it, so even if you sleep from 10pm-6am, you may be missing out on vital sleep stages such as deep sleep and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. These two stages help the immune system, repairing tissue damage and processing memories and information. Without this you can end up being sleep-deprived, even if you go to bed early enough.”

Counting sheep

“To make sure you’re getting good quality sleep, it might help to limit the amount of blue light that you’re exposed to in the hours before bed,” says Dr Gall. “This means putting away the electronics. However, during the day, we want to be increasing our exposure to sunlight in order to regulate our body’s natural circadian rhythm which is responsible for our sleep and wake cycles and the production of melatonin. Other helpful tips include limiting caffeine after lunch, avoiding naps, and making sure that you’re in a regular sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same times each day – even on weekends. If you still find that you’re struggling, melatonin supplements can help your body prepare for sleep.”



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