Five Shocking Sleep Facts You Need To Know Now
Following on from my previous post, where I shared some fun and quirky sleep facts with you, now we will look at some shocking sleep facts. I wasn’t sure whether to describe these as shocking or frightening, perhaps they are both.
These five facts reveal the shocking toll not getting enough sleep takes on our health. And I’ve only chosen a few! Once you’ve read through these, you’ll be scrambling to ensure you get a good nights rest tonight, and all the nights!
1. You’re not getting enough sleep
Did you know that according to these figures from the Center for Disease Control, 35% of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep?
Wait, what?! That’s more than a third. Does that mean it could be you? Absolutely.
What is defined as “enough sleep” anyway? For these figures, enough sleep is defined as at least 7 hours per night. Anything less than 7 hours is the threshold where you start to see negative health effects.
We are all busy these days, with high stress levels and loads to cram into our days. Sleep can be one of the first things we sacrifice in the rush to fit everything in, or we have major troubles falling asleep when we need to. We are also glued to our devices, which emit a type of light which actually makes it harder for us to go to sleep.
If you need some ideas to help you get more sleep, some of my other sleep articles will have some great ideas for you to try. You can read them right here.
2. Sleep deprivation can be like drinking too much
Yes, you read that right. Being sleep deprived can have the same effect on our bodies as being drunk.
Sleep deprivation can make us clumsy, forgetful, more prone to making mistakes, cranky, and foggy. Just like too much alcohol can.
This is a bit of a frightening thought when you consider how much we try to just get on with things when we are sleep deprived. We will still drive, do our jobs, etc etc. We would never do these things under the influence of alcohol, because of the dangers to ourselves and others. Turns out not getting enough sleep can be the exact same. Scary.
This fact gets even more shocking: After five nights of partial sleep deprivation, three drinks will have the same effect on your body as six would when you’ve slept enough.
3. Gaining weight? It could be your sleep habits
Did you know that missing out on sleep messes with your metabolism? Skipping sleep will slow down your metabolism, and interferes with the balance of the hormones that control your appetite.
The two hormones involved in appetite are ghrelin (the “hungry” hormone that drives you to eat) and leptin (the “full” hormone that helps you stop eating when you’ve had enough food). When we don’t get enough sleep, our ghrelin levels can rise and our leptin levels can drop, making us eat more than we really need, and making it hard for us to know when to stop.
How many times have you felt tired and blah, and eaten more? Or gone for a really high calorie treat to give yourself a bit of a pick me up? It’s your hormones and metabolism at play. The better we sleep, the better we can regulate what we eat and how much without it being a big struggle.
Another thing: you’re less likely to feel like preparing nutritious and healthy food when you’re tired. So you grab take out or something quick. I think we sleep better when we eat well, so you can see that it is very easy to slide into some dangerous habits with our food that affect our sleep and vice versa, along with our weight.
4. Testosterone levels decrease with poor sleep
Men, are you still paying attention? Testosterone levels are closely related to sleep, and your internal body clock, or circadian rhythm. Testosterone levels actually peak during sleep, but only if you get three hours of normal, uninterrupted sleep to start with, particularly in the first part of the night. Sleep deprivation and sleep disruption are both known to decrease testosterone levels.
In a vicious double whammy that goes with the weight gain point above, obesity also can lower testosterone levels. You can see how everything starts to work together.
As an interesting aside, the testosterone surge teens experience in puberty is part of why they they want to go to bed later!
5. Sleep is just as important to our health as diet and exercise
We (should) spend roughly a third of our lives asleep, so this should come as no great surprise, right?
BUT: we are constantly bombarded with messages and advice about what to eat and how to move our bodies. Our doctors weigh us, or we weigh ourselves and worry. But when was the last time your doctor asked you about how well you are sleeping? Or when is the last time you asked yourself this?
Sleep is something we have taken for granted, and underestimated just how important it is for our overall well-being. Thomas Edison even thought humans would eventually give up sleeping all together. We need to stop ignoring its role in health, and work on improving our sleep.
I hope these shocking sleep facts have helped you to understand just a little bit about how much can go wrong inside our bodies when we don’t sleep enough. And also, how great we can be when we do sleep well!