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Can Your Sleep Deprivation Wreck Your Life?

By Krista Elliott

What's good for you, enjoyable, is done in bed, but is something that we never seem to get enough of?

Get your mind out of the gutter. I'm talking about sleeping. 

As adults with busy lives, the one thing we always seem to skimp on is sleep. And if you work shift work? Hoo boy. You know what it's like to snatch a couple of hours sleep here and there, hoping that over the course of 24 hours you get enough to keep functioning. 

As it turns out though, shortchanging our sleep is one of the worst things we can do for our health. You might feel okay, or be able to get by, but there's a lot of damage going on that can't be seen. 

Sleep Deprivation and Your Mind

You know how cranky toddlers are when they haven't napped? Yeah, you're kind of the same way. Sleep deprivation makes it harder to control our emotions and behavior. It also makes it harder to cope with change, and can be a major trigger for depression or other mental illnesses. 

In addition, your brain becomes a bit of a sieve when you're sleep-deprived. You have a harder time learning and retaining new information, become forgetful, and your critical thinking and decision-making skills turn to mush. Add this to a delayed reaction time and downright grogginess, and you're unproductive at work, useless at school, and positively dangerous if operating heavy machinery or doing any sort of work where lives are at stake (this is why it makes NO sense for doctors and nurses to have 30-hour shifts). 

Sleep Deprivation and Your Body

In addition to turning you into a cranky, forgetful, addlepated road hazard, missing out on sleep can do a real number on your body. Sleep is the time when your body heals itself. If you're missing out on that, the results aren't pretty. Chronic sleep deficiency is linked to: 

  • An increased risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and high blood pressure. 
  • An increased risk of obesity, due to its effect on your hormones, specifically ghrelin and leptin. 
  • An increased risk of diabetes, as it affects how your body reacts to insulin (add this to all the extra eating you're doing because of that extra ghrelin floating around your system, and you have a recipe for disaster).
  • A weaker immune system. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to a weaker immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off infections. 
  • Diminished repairing of cells and tissues. You'll heal from injuries and surgeries more slowly and build muscle mass less easily. Sleep-deprived children and teens will miss out on important hormones that promote growth. 

So, do yourself a favor and put sleep at the top of your priority list, even if it means paring down your list of obligations and tasks. Your body and mind will thank you. 

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.

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