The quality of your sleep impacts every area of your life.
You know this to be true because you feel better when you sleep well… and you never feel 100% if you’re consistently sleeping poorly.
That’s because solid sleep is crucial to good health – physical and mental. And not getting enough quality sleep can take an enormous toll on your body and your mind.
Your body counts on sleep to take care of many crucial tasks, including:
- Repairing worn out and damaged cells and tissues
- Producing healthy new cells
- Clearing out waste products
- Processing and storing memories
- Producing hormones
- Stocking up on energy
- Managing a balanced immune response
And going without sleep means those things don’t get done… or at least not as completely and effectively as your body needs for abundant wellness.
Still not sold on the importance of sleep? Here are 5 critical ways lack of sleep can damage your health.
5 Health Problems Brought on by Not Enough Sleep
Sleep is a time of rejuvenation and restoration. Your body uses that time to prepare your immune system for new threats… replenish important neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that affect your emotions… improve attention, learning, and problem-solving skills… and dozens of other crucial functions.
Without enough sleep, your physical, mental, and emotional health will suffer, in many different ways.
- Poor sleep interferes with your immune response. Scientific studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to develop infections – and have a harder time fighting them. One study found that participants who didn’t get enough sleep were 4 times more likely to catch colds. New research confirms that sleep has a strong influence on immune functions, especially immune “memory” – where your immune system recognizes germs it’s seen before and remembers how to fight them off .
- Sleep is “bi-directional” with anxiety and depression. Tara Youngblood, sleep expert and co-founder and CEO of Chili Sleep Systems, explains “bi-directional means lack of sleep contributes to both anxiety and depression, and they, in turn, contribute to lack of sleep.”
Research shows that sleep deprivation can significantly increase anxiety levels and that anxiety symptoms can interfere with healthy sleep. Poor sleep is also one of the most common and debilitating symptoms of depression… and poor sleep is also a key cause of more profound depressive symptoms. It’s unfortunate but true: Lack of sleep is closely tied to these conditions, both as a result and a cause!
- Lack of sleep threatens your heart health. Sleep deficiency can cause several different cardiovascular issues:
- High blood pressure: Your blood pressure naturally drops while you’re sleeping, and if you don’t get enough sleep, your blood pressure stays higher longer.
- Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries): Getting too little sleep has been linked with atherosclerosis, which increases your risk of heart disease and heart failure.
- Heart attack: Sleeping fewer than 6 hours a night increases your risk of heart attack by 20%.
- Too little sleep increases your risk of injury. Not getting enough sleep puts you at higher risk for accidental injuries. There’s a lot of research linking too little sleep to serious car accidents. According to the National Safety Council, drowsy driving causes around 100,000 car accidents every year, leading to more than 71,000 injuries.
Lack of sleep also increases the risk of injury from falls in people of all ages, but especially older adults. One study showed that getting too little sleep increased the risk of injuries in young children. Another study found that adults who got less than 7.5 hours of sleep per night increased their risk of injury by 61%.
- Sleep deficits damage brain function.
Your brain needs sleep in order to work properly. Every night while you sleep, your brain is cataloging new information and getting ready for the next day’s challenges. When you don’t get enough sleep, it alters your activity, and brain function suffers. Without enough sleep you may not be able to think clearly, focus on important tasks, or solve problems effectively.
All of the above alarming health issues are linked with poor and insufficient sleep. But the good news is, you can move your health in a positive direction by getting more high-quality sleep. By taking just a few simple steps, you can sleep better… and feel better.
3 Easy Ways to Get Better Sleep
If you’re looking forward to a good night’s sleep but don’t want to turn to pharmaceutical sleep aids, you’re in luck. There are several proven ways to improve sleep – both sleep amount and sleep quality – that don’t involve taking sleeping pills that can leave you feeling hung over and confused. In fact, making the following, simple changes can have you sleeping soundly and feeling fantastic in no time.
- Stick to a routine. Tara Youngblood says “Sleep loves habit. Sleep wants routine. Your sleep doesn’t recognize that stress, the new normal, etc has changed your life.”
Her advice: “We need to keep our schedules. Get outside and get some sunshine – between 9 a.m. and noon is best. Try to stick to a routine every day and you’ll sleep better at night.”
- Set up a sleep environment. Your body craves three things when it’s time to sleep: dark, quiet, and cool. To set the stage for a good night’s sleep, you’ll want to start by avoiding light – and that includes phone, tablet, and TV screens – about 60 minutes before bedtime. And as much as possible, make your bedroom dark. How dark? Ideally it’s “can’t see your hand in front of your face” dark.
Noise can also disrupt sleep (even if it doesn’t wake you up). If you live somewhere that complete silence isn’t an option, try masking the noise with a sound machine or fan, or consider sleeping with earplugs.
Temperature also plays a major role in sound sleep. An environment that’s too warm can interfere with your sleep cycle and increase wakefulness, while cooler environments encourage better and longer sleep. Many experts say that 65 degrees is the ideal sleep temperature. That can be tricky – and expensive – to achieve in the dead of winter or the dog days of summer, especially if you’re heating or cooling an entire home. Alternate solution: Try a cooling mattress pad to keep you comfortable throughout the night. -
- Improve your gut health for better sleep. Your gut microbiome – the trillions of bacteria that live in your gut – has an enormous effect on the quality of your sleep. Beneficial probiotic bacteria in your gut produce many of the natural sleep chemicals your body needs, including:
- Melatonin, the sleep hormone
- Serotonin, the “feel-good” brain chemical
- GABA, the “calm-down” brain chemical
At the same time, those probiotic bacteria keep cortisol – the stress hormone – levels under control, making sure you’re not too stressed to fall asleep.
But when bad bacteria (pathogens) outnumber probiotic bacteria in your gut – a condition called dysbiosis – they make it much harder to sleep. Researchers actually have discovered that people who have trouble sleeping (insomnia) have more pathogenic bacteria in their gut microbiome than people who regularly sleep well.
A well-balanced gut microbiome contains more probiotic bacteria than pathogens, and also contains a highly diverse probiotic population. And new research shows that a healthy, diverse gut microbiome that contains many different types of probiotic bacteria helps increase total sleep time and sleep quality.
The key to a healthy, diverse gut microbiome: Give it fresh supply of spore probiotics every day.
And our favorite way to keep your gut microbiome in balance to support restful sleep is with Just Thrive Probiotic.
Our proprietary probiotic contains four clinically proven spore probiotic strains that work together to maintain a healthy balance of diverse beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome. And since a healthy gut sets the stage for healthy sleep, adding Just Thrive to your daily routine can help take your sleep quality to the next level.
Try Just Thrive Probiotic today… and sleep well tonight!