These days, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what’s preventing us from getting a good night’s rest. Whether it’s checking work emails at home, exercising in the evening, or simply scrolling through social media before bedtime, these activities (and many more) take away our much needed snooze time. It’s not surprising that 1 in 3 Canadian adults aged 35-64 are not getting enough sleep.
If you’re constantly on the lookout for caffeinated drinks to keep you awake or yawning throughout the day, you already know you’re tired. But what about other signals your body sends you? Read on to find out 10 signs your body is trying to tell you that you need more sleep!
1. Always Hungry
If you’re deprived of sleep, one signal your body sends is feelings of hunger. When you don’t sleep enough, your brain seeks energy from food since it can’t get the energy it needs from sleep. Ghrelin, which is known as the hunger hormone, is increasingly produced when you’re low on rest. When there’s too much ghrelin in your body, you crave high fat and high sugar foods.
In addition, leptin, the satiety hormone, can be disturbed and disrupt the signals to stop eating - making you eat more of the high fat and sugar food you’re craving.
2. Weight Gain
With an increased appetite comes increased consumption of food, resulting in weight gain. When you’re tired, you’re less likely to keep track of what you’re putting in your body. Instead, you search for food that helps you feel more awake. When there’s changes in your hunger and satiety hormones (ghrelin and leptin) due to sleep deprivation, you crave sweets and fried foods to power you through the day.
Plus, when you aren’t well rested, your metabolism slows down. High calorie foods coupled with a slower metabolism leads to extra pounds on the scale.
3. Skin Changes
An obvious giveaway of not getting enough sleep is dark circles under your eyes. However, a less obvious sign is an increase in blemishes on your face. Due to lack of sleep, your body can become more resistant to insulin, and trigger your skin to produce more sebum. As a result of the insulin resistance and increased sebum, your skin expresses these changes in the form of unexpected breakouts.
Something you may notice when you’re sleep deprived is that your emotions are all over the place. For instance, you may overreact to things you don’t normally react as much to, such as a tearjerking movie. Or, a work deadline can cause increased levels of anxiety, anger, or sadness. On the other hand, positive emotions can take over as well. Some people become extremely happy when tired. Positive or negative, your emotions are affected when low on sleep.
5. Prone to Sickness
Poor sleep can also lead to a weaker immune system. A weaker immune system means your body has a harder time fighting off illnesses and infections. When your immune system can’t work at its best, you’re more prone to catching a cold. This could be because cytokines (proteins that help protect against inflammation and infections) are produced while you sleep. So, getting little sleep each night can undermine your body’s ability to defend itself against illnesses.
6. Motor Skills Problems
The first thought you’d probably if you tripped a few times in a day is that you’re just a klutz. However, your clumsiness could be due to sleepiness. When tiredness takes over, you can struggle to focus on where you’re going/what you’re doing. Additionally, your reaction time and concentration is lowered, so movement becomes difficult. This is especially true when completing tasks such as walking up and down a staircase, since more processing is involved. Since your motor skills are slower when fatigued, this also explains why you might accidentally knock over that glass of water.
7. Trouble Seeing
Believe it or not, when tired, you aren’t able to control your eye muscles as well. The ciliary muscle, the muscle that helps your eyes focus, is tired out when you slack on sleep. This makes it troubling to read up close.That’s not all, the extraocular muscles, which control movement of the eye, are affected as well.
When exhausted, you tend to act without thinking. For example, when seeing a chocolate bar or bag of chips, the ability to say no becomes more difficult. What’s worse for your health - impulsive eating due to lack of sleep can lead to weight gain. However, impulsive behaviour doesn't just apply to eating. Ranting or taking out your anger on a friend are other examples of acting impulsively.
9. Memory Loss
Sleep is necessary for consolidating memories, no matter if they’re fact-based, episodic, procedural, or instructional memories. Without enough sleep, it’s harder for your brain to take in and recall new information - something we’ve all experienced at one point in our lives. Although it’s not known how sleep enhances memory, it’s thought that the hippocampus (the center of memory) replays daily events for the neocortex. From here, it reviews these memories and processes them to last for the long term.
10. Difficulty Making Decisions
When it comes to making decisions when you’re running low on sleep, making them can be harder than usual. Since sleep deprivation can have an effect on the speed of processing, and carrying out certain functions such as problem solving, this explains why it affects your ability to make decisions - and quickly!
If you’re noticing one or more of these signs from your body, you’re body may be telling you that you need more rest. If simple sleep hygiene habits don’t do the trick, a sleep disorder may be to blame. To see if you may have a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, take our instant Sleep Apnea Quiz. You can also book an appointment with one of our sleep specialists. Not only will improved sleep make you feel better, but your quality of life will improve too!