In honor of Opposite Day on January 25, we recommend shorting yourself on sleep… Take a run at 9, a nap at 10… gulp some coffee then move on to the smartphone portion of the evening. If you find yourself drifting off, set an alarm (the louder the better) to sound every few minutes…
Joking aside, if you’re getting the opposite of a good night’s sleep, it’s likely impacting your life in subtle but powerful ways. Read on to learn what happens when you skimp on sleep, then head over to our top five tips for catching back up.
Chips, bread, ice cream… Junk food cravings are strong for most of us, but sleep loss can make them even worse.
Research shows a link between abridged sleep and ghrelin (also known as the “hunger hormone”), which could explain the uptick in snacking we experience when we’re tired. On top of that, sleep loss whittles down will power, making it even harder to say no to calorie-dense treats.
Grouch on the Couch
For any parent who has stayed up half the night with a crying baby, this probably comes as no surprise: you’re grouchier when you’re sleep deprived. Sleep loss degrades your mental energy, leaving you ill-equipped to make decisions, exercise judgment and see the positive side of challenges.
Driving isn’t the most stimulating activity—the whir of the engine, the lull of traffic—but it shouldn’t be dull enough to put you to sleep. Drowsy driving may seem normal, but daytime sleepiness (even during mundane activities) can be a sign of sleep deprivation.
Aside from causing puffy, red eyes and under-eye circles, sleep loss leads to a spike in cortisol, which breaks down the skin’s collagen (buh-bye, bounce). And it’s not just sleep quantity, but quality, that’s important. If you’re not spending enough time in deep sleep (stages 3 and 4), you’re missing out on valuable tissue repair courtesy of human growth hormone.
If you avoid salt and red meat and call it a day, your heart may still be suffering. While sleep loss may not directly cause heart disease, it has been shown to exacerbate existing risk factors like high blood pressure and inflammation. In one study, individuals sleeping less than six hours a night were 66% more likely to have hypertension than their better-rested peers.