Health & Fitness

Signs you’re not getting enough sleep

Lack of shuteye can affect you in more ways than you realise…

By Edwina Carr

When you’ve had an early night (as in 4am kinda early), do you sometimes wake up thinking you’ve managed to escape a hangover and severe tiredness? Soz to burst your bubble, but not getting enough sleep can actually manifest itself in many more ways than just giving you the yawns. Everything from your looks to your mood can be affected. Yes, really. “Getting a good night’s sleep is as important for your health as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly,” says Dr Guy Meadows from The Sleep School. Here are the telltale signs that you need to catch some more ZZZZs…

1. You’re moody

Heading to bed late or tossing and turning all night can wreak serious havoc on your mood. “One of the real consequences of sleep loss is irritability and a change in your mood. The reason for that is that the frontal lobe is very affected by lack of sleep and that’s where your emotional modulation takes place, so the sleep deprived brain is very sensitive,” explains Professor David Hillman, President of the Sleep Health Foundation. Don’t believe us? Researchers at the University of California found that even one night of bad sleep can up the intensity of your fights with your BF the next day. Scary, huh? And the same goes for your stress and anxiety levels.

2. You get sick… a lot

If someone next to you on the bus coughs are you guaranteed to come down with the flu a day later? If so, your sleeping habits could be to blame. “Lack of sleep reduces the cells and proteins (T-Cells) in our body that are responsible for maintaining a healthy immune system,” explains Dr Guy. “This means that when we’re sleep deprived we are more likely to suffer from coughs and cold.”

3. You look terrible

OK, so clever scientists have discovered that beauty sleep is an actual thing. A study by the University Hospital Case Medical Centre in Ohio found that poor sleepers had twice the amount of signs of ageing (think: fine lines, uneven pigmentation, reduced elasticity and slower recovery time from sunburn). A good way to get the right amount of snooze time? “Calculate how much sleep you usually need and go to bed at a time that allows that amount, turn your electronic devices off and keep them out of the bedroom and be sure to wind down relax before bed,” says Professor David.

4. You’re hungry all the time

If you’ve barely finished one meal before your salivating for the next, you might not be getting enough sleep. True story. “Lack of sleep affects the hormones that regulate our appetite (e.g. Leptin and Ghrellin). When we're sleep deprived, Leptin, the hormone that tells us that we are full is lowered leading to increased hunger and Ghrellin, the hormone that tells us when to eat is increased,” explains Dr Guy. If you can’t seem to control your eating, rather than force yourself onto some horrible diet, book yourself in to catch up on ZZZZs instead.

5. You can’t concentrate

Find that you’re switching from internet shopping to Facebook to that urgent task you need to do? Not being able to focus is another surefire sign you’re in snooze deficit. “Lack of sleep prevents the neurons in your brain responsible for maintaining your focus and attention from resting. The more tired they become, the less attentive they are making it harder to stay focused on a document,” says Dr Guy. If you’re road tripping this summer, be sure that you’re rested as it could affect your driving.

So, have you realised that you’re not getting enough sleep?