Getting a good night’s sleep plays an integral role in overall health and wellness. Unfortunately, if you’re someone who struggles with sleep hygiene, you may not even notice the difference; it’s difficult to understand the signs of sleep deprivation if it’s your general state of existence.
Fortunately, there are some subtle cues that can indicate a problem with your sleep cycle. Here are six signs that you aren’t sleeping well.
Inability to Focus
One of the most telling signs of sleep deprivation is an inability to focus and poor memory recall skills. If you notice a change in your cognition, there’s likely an underlying issue with your sleep patterns — even if you aren’t aware of them. Consider scheduling a sleep apnea test or tracking your sleep cycle for deeper insights into what happens late at night.
Proper levels of REM sleep are essential for memory retention and focus. In recent years, studies have also shown a link between slow-wave sleep (SWS) — the phase before REM — and cognitive function.
If you find yourself forgetting simple tasks or your productivity levels lapsing with no known cause, take another look at your sleep patterns. Sleep deprivation is one of the leading causes of devastating workplace accidents, and when you’re in the midst of brain fog, it’s not difficult to understand why.
Frequent or Recurring Illness
Your body does its best work while you’re sleeping, especially in relation to your immune function. Your immune system primarily operates during restful periods, which is why medical professionals recommend rest as the first line of defense when ill. If you notice yourself getting sick more often or struggling to overcome your illnesses, there’s a good chance your sleep cycle is being interrupted.
Studies have shown a significant reduction in the development of natural killer (NK) cell production in those who sleep less than five hours per night. While that sounds like a good thing, NK cells fight for your body. They play a pivotal role in cancer prevention, metabolic function, and cardiovascular health. In other words, a lack of sleep doesn’t only lead to more occurrences of the common cold; it could impact your long-term health as well.
If you feel moody or unable to regulate your emotions, there’s likely something happening with your sleep cycle. Your sleep quality assists with hormonal regulation, including the management of the stress hormone, cortisol. If your typical stress management techniques aren’t working, or you find yourself overreacting to situations, you might need more sleep.
Consider it this way: when a child hasn’t slept and has emotional outbursts, we’re quick to recognize the cause. Remember that you are just an overtired child with a bit more life experience.
Noticeable Skin Changes
Skin changes are another subtle sign that something is going on with your sleep cycle. As mentioned before, sleep plays a role in hormonal regulation. If you notice the development of acne without a known cause, it could be a sign of hormonal disruption caused by insufficient sleep.
Sleep will also make you look older. As your body can’t adequately process nutrients without adequate sleep, your skin’s elasticity and healthy glow may fade away. The development of fine lines and wrinkles could be a temporary side effect of sleep deprivation.
Poor Exercise Performance and Results
Keeping a regular exercise routine can help improve your sleep quality. However, poor sleep quality can also derail your efforts when it comes to training and athletic performance.
If you notice your performance waning, your body may not be recovering enough to support your progress. Hormonal imbalances also cause metabolic disruptions that could limit your fat loss or muscle growth. If you feel unable to perform and don’t see results, sleep deprivation may be the reason.
Feelings of Lethargy
Finally, if you feel tired or groggy all day long, there’s a good chance your sleep is being disrupted. Similarly, if you fall asleep anywhere or within minutes of getting into bed, there’s likely an issue in your later sleep cycles.
If you notice these side effects of sleep deprivation, schedule an appointment for a sleep test as soon as possible.