The Aging Mistake
What you believe are the effects of aging are actually the impacts of a lack of sleep. Short-term impacts of a lack of sleep can be reversed much easier than those developed over years of not getting the recommended amount of rest. For example, weight gain will take the right mindset, an exercise regimen, and a well-balanced diet to combat. And that’s only one of the impacts of a lack of sleep at night.
Whether you are curious about the symptoms of a lack of sleep or wondering if they can be reversed, I’ve got the answer for you right here.
Changes In Mood
Let’s start with the most obvious symptom of a lack of sleep. When we don’t get enough sleep, we tend to be groggy, easily frustrated, and more emotional than usual. Everything that happens or doesn’t happen throughout the day seems to be serious. I know you’ve had that day where it seemed like everything wrong that could happen is happening.
But the truth is you have had worse days. You just don’t have the physical, mental, or emotional strength to deal with it because you’ve slept an average of 5 hours each night over the last week. There is a reason that a lack of sleep is called sleep deprivation. It deprives you of your ability to handle situations you would typically handle had you gotten the rest your body and mind needed.
We are humans, not robots. Therefore, it’s normal for us not to remember every piece of information uploaded into our brains. But, you will notice that you even forget the little things when you don’t get enough rest. Ever packed your lunch and walked right by it sitting on the counter and not realize you left it until you got to work?
Remembering to grab your bag, the keys, the phone, and your coffee overloaded your brain so that it didn’t have enough room to focus on lunch. That’s the effect of a lack of sleep on your short-term memory.
As we sleep, our brain works to create connections that allow us to remember more information. The process of sorting thoughts and repairing neural connections is happening when we sleep. Forgetfulness is not always a result of aging.
In fact, I know a few individuals over the age of 70 that are mentally sharp and have great memories. They get at least seven hours of sleep each night and even take naps throughout the day.
Having trouble focusing goes hand in hand with forgetfulness. Concentrating on your work takes more effort. Creativity becomes writer’s block and thoughts of “I don’t feel like it.” It’s not always that you have lost interest or motivation or that you are at the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s just that your body is operating in survival mode.
Whatever is not needed to survive is turned off. Unfortunately, that is more than likely parts of the brain that you need the most. It’s the same as turning off the air conditioner in the car when the gas light comes on. The goal is to increase the number of miles you can drive before you get to the gas tank by reverting all the energy to the motor.
Anything that burns excess needs to be turned off.
Forgetfulness and trouble focusing lead to a lack of awareness and a slower response time. There is a reason drowsy drivers are compared to drunk drivers. In 2017 alone, drowsy drivers had more than 90,000 car accidents that resulted in 50,000 injuries and close to 800 deaths. That is a startling number.
While that number isn’t a comparison to 10,000 deaths from drunk driving, it is still one to pay attention to. Major accidents aren’t worth the cost of your life, your quality of life, or that of someone else’s.
Let’s not forget about smaller accidents that occur in the home. Ever stub your toe on your bed? You know the bed that you’ve had for ten years that’s been in that same spot? Or have you cut your finger while slicing a cucumber even though you were looking directly at the knife? These things happen when our awareness is not where it should be.
Going to bed by 10 pm is detrimental to our physical health. Between the hours of 10 pm and 2 am, our bodies are hard at work detoxing our liver and kidneys. It is important not to eat after 8 pm as you give your stomach a chance to empty so that your body isn’t working on emptying stomach contents but detoxing.
This is why many wake up leaner. It is also why many of us use the bathroom upon waking up. But that is only half of the reason a lack of sleep causes weight gain.
Being tired leads our bodies to search for energy. Ever notice how much you crave carbohydrates when you are tired. When this happens, your body is saying; I need some fuel to keep up this charade.
Then we order a burger and fries for lunch, thinking we are hungry and then get even more tired when our bodies work hard to digest it. The constant overindulging leads to an increase in fat, weight, and inflammation.
The Immune System
The immune system is so crucial to our overall health. The best way to strengthen it and keep it strong is by eating healthy, exercising, managing stress, and getting enough rest. I have learned over the years that a lack of sleep is the foundation to creating optimal health.
I have been that person doing all the right things but still catching a cold because I wasn’t getting enough sleep. I was always tired and always busy. I was that guy working, training, winning powerlifting competitions, and wondering why of all people, I’m catching a cold.
I remember catching a cold the day after my last powerlifting competition and then another a few weeks after getting over the first cold. When I changed my rest schedule, I noticed how much better I felt. Now I make sure to take the time out to rest, and since then, I haven’t had a cold.
Impaired Sex Drive
Most people will say no matter how tired they are, they still have the energy for sex. Well, studies show that a lack of sleep has more impact on men’s libido levels than women’s. That is because it causes a drop in testosterone levels.
Testosterone to us is like spinach to Popeye. When those levels drop, we become more susceptible to hair loss, weight gain, erectile dysfunction, and constant fatigue. Add all these things together, and you have created a recipe for anxiety and depression, which can cause a further drop in testosterone. Talk about problems.
Now that we know some of the things that happen to our bodies and minds when we don’t get enough sleep, we can graduate to chronic diseases. If we are in a constant state of survival, we aren’t in our natural state. Our bodies are working harder just to maintain us. This creates imbalances that lead to chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Not getting enough sleep causes a decrease in the amount of insulin our bodies release, leading to higher blood sugar levels. On another spectrum, attempting to keep up with strenuous daily activities can cause a rise in heart rate, leading to high blood pressure. The inflammation from stress combined with high blood pressure can lead to heart disease.
It is worth mentioning that sleep deprivation will cause you to have random stress-induced symptoms. For example, stress can cause one to have unexplained back pain. When I say unexplained, I mean that x-rays and MRIs show that everything is intact and nothing is wrong.
I have experienced this. I have seen it in my clients. I have heard many stories of this happening, from headaches to chest pain. Therefore, there is a truth to this. While the symptoms you experience may be different, it’s essential to understand that it could be caused by the stress of not getting enough rest. It is essentially your body telling you that it needs downtime.
If this is your first time learning about how a lack of sleep can cause the mind and body to break down, it’s okay. Now, you have the opportunity to start making the lifestyle change that will give you a better quality of life and add years to your lifespan.
Let’s stop blaming aging for our lack of motivation and creativity and hone in on the effects of the lack of sleep on the brain. The best sleep deprivation treatment is to get more sleep. You will see a difference in how you feel and your ability to function normally.
If you need help with creating a healthy lifestyle, whether that be goal setting, becoming healthy (diet and exercise regimen), or managing stress, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will help you create a strategy that will get you the results you desire.
Don’t play with your body. You only get one.