Is your lack of sleep shortening your life expectancy?


You’re constantly hungry through out the day, finding your cell phone in the fridge or locking your keys in the car, crying over spilled milk and irritated by the littlest things, tripping over your own two feet, can’t kick that cold to the curb, and you’re struggling to focus throughout the day. Any of these sound familiar? If so, you may be part of the 40 million Americans who get less than 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night, the amount of sleep recommended for a healthy lifestyle by the National Sleep Foundation.


The number one most fatigued state is also the number one state with the most obese individuals. Coincidence? The two actually may go together.

Risks Associated with Sleep Deprivation

Four times more likely to have a stroke

Smoking, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and a lack of exercise aren’t the only things that increase your risk of stroke. A researcher from the 2012 SLEEP conference found that individuals who sleep less than 6 hours an evening have a four times greater chance of having a stroke than those who get an adequate amount of sleep each evening.

When you don’t get enough sleep, your blood pressure increases and causes a shift in your metabolic hormones.

Interferes with weight loss and could lead to obesity

Trying to lose weight or you’ve noticed a few extra pounds here and there? It could be because you aren’t getting enough sleep. A study done through The Journal of Sleep found that getting less than 6 hours of sleep at night can increases your carbohydrate intake, cause sugar cravings, alters your ability to correctly read your appetite signals, and may lead to overeating.

A lack of sleep causes an increase in the the production of the hormone ghrelin which stimulates hunger and decreases the leptin hormone which balances out energy levels and food consumption. 

Lead to permanent brain deterioration

So it may not be a big deal if you misplace your keys occasionally. But when you are constantly struggling to remember the events that took place during your day, forgetting things in random places, or feel yourself continuously unable to remember important details, then you may not be getting an adequate amount of sleep. 

Your body requires you to go into a deep sleep in order for it to form slow brain waves to transfer short term memories from the hippocampus to the prefrontal cortex for long-term memory storage. If the body doesn’t go into this deep sleep, it is unable to transfer short-term memories into long-term memories.

Other potential risks:

-Shortened life expectancy

Sleep Deprivation Problems and Solutions

You can’t force yourself to go to bed if you aren’t tired. However, there are things you can avoid doing and ideas to try that may help ease your racing mind, relax your stress levels, and help you to create a bedtime routine to help you fall asleep better.

Source: Happy Families Inspired Parenting Blog

Problem: You aren’t getting enough exercise during the day
Fix it:Take a walk on your lunch break, after dinner, or when you need a little fresh air. By squeezing in small amounts throughout the day, you can increase your activity and works towards a more active lifestyle by building slowly.

Problem: You’re restless and have too much on your mind
Fix it: Avoid caffeine after mid-afternoon and do your best to shut off your mind before bed. Try reading a book, writing down your thoughts from the day, or listening to soothing noises to help relax you. Also make sure your room is at a comfortable temperature and avoid being on the computer or phone within an hour before bed as the blue lights from these devices disturb your body’s natural production of melatonin.

Problem: You constantly wake up in the middle of the night
Fix it: Maybe it’s because you’re doing so well at staying hydrated throughout the day or maybe you had a few extra alcoholic drinks. Avoid drinking alcohol a few hours before bedtime and limit your consumption to a couple of drinks as alcohol acts as a stimulant and disrupts your sleep process. Also, resist taking in too many fluids too close to bedtime to avoid wakeup calls in the middle of the night.

Other tips:

-Shut out all the light with light blocking curtains or wear an eye mask.
-Use a noise blocking device or wear ear plugs.
-Only use the bedroom for sleeping. Avoid eating, doing work, or watching t.v. so you don’t confuse your body when it’s time to actually go to bed.
-Don’t check your work email or texts before bed. Once you start getting into your bedtime routine also shut off the computer and phone as these can keep your mind up and working.
-Try to wake up and go to bed at the same time everyday. Also, create a bedtime ritual where you do the same things every night (shut off electronic devices, brush your teeth, wash your face, read a book, etc.).
-Avoid eating heavy before bed.

Source: Design Wan

If you still are struggling to get enough sleep or even fall asleep at night, consult your doctor and see if there are other factors coming into play.

What do you do to ensure you get an adequate amount of sleep each night?

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