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The Health Risks of Poor Sleep and What to Do About It

09 November 2022

It's no coincidence that you don't have your best day after a night of constant tossing and turning in bed. After all, you will most likely wake up tired and disoriented. Then, what happens when you find yourself in this state of sleep deprivation night after night? Surely not anything pleasant!

A constant lack of sleep or decreased sleep quality often results in sleep deprivation, which can be detrimental to your health. Poor sleep has been linked with numerous health problems — from mental to physical challenges.

Hence, it goes without saying that quality sleep is just as vital as a healthy diet and regular exercise in maintaining your overall well-being. Getting the recommended hours of sleep every day is also essential, and purchasing a top-quality adjustable bed will be helpful in achieving that.

In this piece, we’ll discuss the health risks associated with poor sleep hygiene and how to deal with a lack of rest.

4 Negative Effects of Poor Sleep on Health

Sleep deprivation — over a long period — can result in severe health challenges and negatively affect us. Some effects of poor sleep on our health are highlighted below:

1. Affects the nervous system

The body needs sufficient rest to keep the nervous system functioning optimally. Hence, sleep deprivation will negatively impact the transmission and processing of information in the brain.

New pathways are formed between nerve cells in the brain during sleep, enabling you to remember new information you’ve learnt — a process known as consolidation. However, not getting enough sleep leaves the brain tired and unable to carry out this function.

Several other ways poor sleep can affect the nervous system include lack of concentration, reduced coordination, impaired cognitive health, and so on.

2. Impacts the immune system

During sleep, the immune system secretes protective, disease-fighting chemicals such as antibodies and cytokines. These substances help resist foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, and protozoa, keeping all kinds of illnesses at bay. In fact, some cytokines help improve the quality of sleep, which in turn, enhances your immune system.

However, a lack of restful sleep prevents the immune system from reinforcing its defence against diseases. Sleep deprivation increases your chances of falling sick and may lengthen your recovery time.

3. Causes hormonal imbalance

Sleep naturally influences hormone production in the body. For instance, you need at least 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep for sufficient testosterone production. Hence, staying up all night can negatively impact the secretion of this hormone in the body.

In another instance, the pituitary gland releases the growth hormone throughout the day, but adequate sleep significantly contributes to the secretion of this hormone. Poor sleep hygiene can affect the amount of growth hormone the body produces, especially in children and adolescents.

4. Affects the cardiovascular system

Sleep plays a significant role in keeping the heart and the entire cardiovascular system healthy. It promotes the body’s ability to repair and restore blood vessels and the heart. So, individuals who do not get adequate sleep are more prone to cardiovascular diseases.

In fact, a scientific study found a link between chronic sleep deprivation and an increased risk of heart attack, hypertension, and other cardiovascular diseases.

5 Basic Tips to Improve Your Sleep Hygiene

The following tips will help you sleep better.

1. Adhere to a sleep schedule

The human body regulates sleep by following an internal clock known as the circadian rhythm. This natural clock influences your brain, body, and hormones, telling you when to stay awake and when to sleep. Sticking to those particular sleep and wake hours can help improve your sleep quality.

Several studies have found that an irregular sleep pattern can alter your circadian rhythm, causing you to lose significant hours of rest. So, if you have difficulty getting sufficient sleep, try to create and stick to a specific sleep schedule.

2. Stay active

Engaging in regular workouts helps improve the quality of your sleep. Try performing some light exercises for at least a few hours before you go to bed, and you should have a pleasant rest. That said, you should avoid stimulating activities — some of which may expose you to blue light — before bedtime.

3. Increase bright light exposure during the day

Getting enough bright light exposure during the day helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy, enhancing the quality and duration of your nighttime sleep.

4. Optimise your bedroom environment

Your bedroom’s setup plays a key role in you getting a good night’s sleep. Hence, you must pay attention to factors like lighting, noise, furniture, etc. In a study on bedroom environments, scientists noticed that an average woman sleeps better when noise and light are reduced.

Additionally, you should check the furniture you use in your bedroom. For instance, you can never go wrong with investing in an adjustable bed, as it allows you to enjoy your sleep at any suitable angle.

5. Set your bedroom temperature

Like the electric bed frame, bedroom temperature can also affect the quality of your sleep. In fact, research shows that increased body and bedroom temperature can reduce sleep quality and induce wakefulness.

Although most people tend to sleep well in a temperature of about 70F (20C), you can test different temperature levels to find out which is most suitable for you.

Conclusion

Getting adequate sleep is one of the tenets of maintaining excellent overall well-being. Hence, if you want to enjoy optimal health, you must prioritise your sleep hygiene, and some of the tips above should help you in doing so.