Sleep.

Such a simple concept right? You would think so. Yet I can almost guarantee most of us don’t get enough of it. We don’t think much of it, it’s just how life is. We stay up late, get up early, run around all day and wonder why we always feel so drained.

This is something I have really been struggling with lately. It seems like when I try and go to bed on time, I’m waking up every few hours with my mind racing.  Then other nights I stay up much later than I should and wake up dreadingly to the alarm clock.

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The thing most of us might not know though is how important sleep actually is and how it can affect our health. Lack of sleep is more than just feeling tired, it can also cause hormone disregulation and increased cortisol, which in the long run can lead to weight gain and just an overall yucky feeling. We feel drained, run down and crappy. It could even be said that sleep is just as important as a healthy diet. You could probably get through your day skipping a meal, but can you get through a day skipping a nights sleep? Maybe, but definitely not as easy.

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In my line of work I am constantly running around. I love my job, but the long hours and being on my feet all day definitely start to wear me out by the end of the week.

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Yes these adorable faces keep me motivated, but I can always tell a difference the day after I don’t get a good nights sleep. I feel drained, light headed and just flat out lack energy. This usually hits me around 1-2pm. It’s like running into a brick wall, I’m just all of a sudden exhausted. But even when the end of my day finally comes, the detrimental effects of being tired and under rested doesn’t end.

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There is more than just lacking energy associated with a lack of sleep. There are quite a few other health risks:

1. Cardiovascular Health Risk Lack of sleep can affect cardiovascular health. Serious sleep deprivation has been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels and irregular heartbeat.

2. Poor Immunity Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of killer cells that fight off immunity. Although it hasn’t been entirely proven, it is thought that sleep may help fight cancer.

3. Weight Gain Sleep deprivation affects the way the body stores and produces carbohydrates. This alters hormone activity, affecting appetite and causing us to crave more food.

4. Mood As we have all experienced, lack of sleep affects mood. Tiredness makes us irritable and impatient and impairs concentration and focus. This means we can’t do the things we normally enjoy doing to our full potential. Stay in this zone for too long and we become unhappy and demoralized, which subsequently impacts every aspect of our lives, including relationships, work, exercise and eating habits.

5. Accidents Those with a sleep debt are more likely to have car accidents and accidents in general. You are also more likely to make a mistake at work, which could be very serious if you are a doctor, pilot, driver or machinery operator.

(Source)

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Pretty serious stuff huh?  It actually kind of blew my mind to read so much on how sleep and stress affect our bodies as much as it does. We get so caught up thinking that diet and exercise are the only things that affect our weight and health, but it’s just not the case. Come to find out stress and sleep may play a bigger role.

The good news is there are plenty of ways to get a better nights sleep.

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(Source)

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As simple as making sure to sleep in a dark room, having a night time ritual of going to bed and getting up at the same time and reducing computer time right before bed all seem like easy changes to make. These along with other tips are things I am trying to implement in my life to ensure I get better sleep. The computer time is a big one with me. Not only will cutting back on my night time computer usage help me get a better nights sleep, but it will also give me more time for more important things that could be done with that time. Like spending time with these cuties.

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Oh and this guy is pretty cute too.

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Yea I like spending more time with him.

So in short. Sleep is important. Very important.

So let’s get to sleeping!

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Do you get enough sleep?

How can you tell when you don’t get enough?