Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Sleep is so important. Unfortunately, many night owls and insomniacs don’t get enough of it! Sleep helps keep your mind and body healthy, which helps you function at your best!

Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep on a regular schedule each night. Getting enough sleep isn’t only about total hours of sleep. It’s also important to get good quality sleep on a regular schedule so you feel rested when you wake up. Here are some things that could happen if you don’t get enough sleep each night:

  • Your skin may soon show it. Some studies have found a link between a lack of ZZZs and acne, perhaps related to how sleep controls hormones in your body. Sleep deprivation also hurts the immune system, leaving your body open to many different issues.
  • Your eyes show it, too. Redness, puffiness, dark circles, and bags — all signs that you’re not getting enough shut-eye. The sleep-deprived tend to get more wrinkles, lines, swelling, and droopiness, studies show. Why? It may be that your body misses out on the hormone control and tissue repair that happens in deep sleep stages.
  • You may experience weight gain. When you get a good night’s rest, your body can properly control ghrelin and leptin — the hormones that affect how hungry you feel. Without them, you may feel the urge to eat more than you need, which can make you gain weight.
  • You’re more likely to eat unhealthy food. A sleep-deprived brain is more likely to crave unhealthy snacks and meals. It may be that judgment and decision-making aren’t as sharp when you’re tired, which makes it easier for other desires to take over.
  • You drink more caffeine. Your usual 2 cups of coffee might not cut it, as you may not be as rested as usual. Caffeine may seem like an answer to poor sleep, but it quickly can become part of the problem. In the short term, the pick-me-up of coffee or soda may make you more alert, but in the long term, it can lead to insomnia or anxiety.
  • Irritability is a big sign of poor sleep. One study limited people to 4 1/2 hours of sleep a night for a week. The result: More stressed, angry, and mentally exhausted people. They felt better when they returned to their normal schedules.
  • Depression and poor sleep are also closely related. Depression can lead to poor sleep, and the reverse can happen, too.
  • You are less focused and your memory isn’t as sharp. Losing just 2 hours if you usually snooze 8 hours a night — can make you groggy and affect concentration and memory. This may make you less skilled at work — or worse, behind the wheel of your car. More than one-third of people admit dozing off while driving.

As you can see, not getting enough sleep affects many areas of your life. Not sleeping well? Here are some things you can do to catch some zzzs.

  • Stick to a schedule, which means going to bed and waking up about the same time each day.
  • Keep your room cool, quiet, and dark.
  • Exercise regularly, especially workouts that get your heart pumping. It may promote deeper sleep.

If you often have trouble sleeping, or if you are feeling under the weather, please call us at Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300 for an appointment. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidenced-based, patient-centered approach.